Is your employee REALLY ready for an International Assignment? Part 4

What does it take to succeed on an international assignment?  How can we identify employees who are a good fit?

We’ve looked at why it’s important to choose the right people.  We’ve discussed five mindset traits and five social skills that are good indicators. In this final post on this topic, we’re going to look at self-management.

Self-management, the way a person handles stress and challenge, is especially important on a global assignment.

Working in a different culture can be  very stressful. There is less comfort and less familiarity. An employee can never be on autopilot, even when performing the simplest of tasks. If there is a language barrier, everything becomes even more challenging.

There are five traits that characterize employees with strong self-management skills.

1. They are optimistic. 

In most situations, they tend to take a glass-half-full perspective. They have positive feelings about a potential expatriate or global team assignment. They’ve already decided that things will work out well. They have good judgement in that they aren’t unrealistic or untrustworthy because of their optimism. Even when faced with challenges, they maintain a positive attitude.

2. They are self-confident.

They are not arrogant, but they have a healthy appreciation for their strengths and skills. It is clear that they can handle most situations. They are willing to work hard and expect that this will pay off for them. There are few things they don’t think they can do once they really set their mind to it. They are also humble enough to ask for help when they need it, and willing to take good advice.

3. They have healthy values.

They know who they are and what they believe, but they do not force their views on others. However, they also don’t give up as soon as they are faced with a potential conflict. They have a healthy, clear balance between commitment to their own values and willingness to accept others’. If an international employee is too rigid, they won’t accept differences in the new culture. On the other hand, if they are too flexible, they can lose sight of their own values and the company’s. The best candidate has a healthy, balanced attitude in this area.
4. They don’t stress easily.

This person has calm responses to most situations. They don’t freak out about small things. Minor setbacks and inconveniences don’t disturb them. They are able to empathize and they stay serene most of the time, but they aren’t seen as cold. When they do face stress, they know how to care for themselves and get through it. They know when to quit and when to push harder. When they need to, they can relax and let go.

5. They are resilient.

It takes a lot to overwhelm this person. They bounce back quickly when something does affect them.  Setbacks, major frustrations, and personal challenges do not derail them for long.  At the same time, they can set healthy boundaries. They are capable of determining when enough is enough. They are stable people.

These five self-management skills can point to the ideal candidates for international positions. Once you combine these with the traits we discussed before, you have the portrait of the perfect global employee. Look for the traits in those you are considering for expatriate assignments or global teams. Your employees will be happier, healthier, and more successful.

If you are interested in more information on this topic, contact us at to see how we can help your expats thrive.

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