Step in expatriate Performance Management

One of the most challenging tasks of IHRM is managing the performance of a firm’s various international facilities. While recruitment, selection and training  and development tend to focus on pre-assignment issues, performance management looks at post-assignment issues, performance management looks at post-assignment performance-related issues.

Performance management may be understood as a process that enables an MNC to evaluate and facilitate continuous improvement of individuals, subsidiary units and corporate performance, against clearly defined, pre-set goals and targets. Obviously, performance management is comprehensive in as much as it includes assessment of the performance of not only individuals but the activities of the firm and its subsidiaries too. But we focus mainly on assessment of expatriate performance.

In the international context, expatriate performance management comprises several steps: linkage with organizational strategy, setting performance goals, identifying variables impacting performance, appraising the performance, providing feedback, offering opportunities for improvement and linking results with rewards figure:

Linking with organizational strategy:

Performance management becomes an internal part of corporate strategy. Besides, contributing to enhanced performance, performance management identify employee with high potentials, facilitates performance-reward linking and delineates employee needs for development. All these offer vital inputs for formulation and execution of strategies.

Setting individual performance goals: It is critical, in the international context, to closely link unit goals to individual/team especially at the top and senior management levels. Goals are the future outcomes that individuals and organizations desire and strive to achieve. Popularly, goals seek to serve three specific purposes:

  • Guide and direct behavior in the direction of the goal.
  • Offer benchmarks for employees to strive towards excellence.
  • Reflect what the employees and managers consider as important.

In order to serve the above purposes, goals must be specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timely. Specific and challenging goals serve to focus the individual attention on precisely what is to be accomplished and to arouse him or her to peak performance. In a wide range of occupations, people who set specific and challenging goals consistently  outperform those who have easy or unspecified goals, as figure:

Similarly quantitative goals render themselves easy for measurement and time bound goals  enhance measurability. Measurability and timelines ass to performance enhancement.

Variables impacting performance: Performance of an expatriate depends on several variables which are distinct from the performance of an employee working in his or her home country. Performance of the non-expatriate is influenced by job extrinsic factors (for example, working condition, company policy) and job intrinsic factors (example, challenging job, career prospects). An expatriate’s performance depends on several other variables figure. In addition to job extrinsic and job intrinsic factors.

Compensation packages: Contribute to performance considerably whether an employee is working on the home country or is an expatriate posted in a foreign location. Expatriate’s performance Is influenced by the type of task too. Home office moral and physical support is vital in expatriate performance. Host environment, as it is prevailing in Afghanistan and Iraq, hardly enhance performance. Finally, the ability of the expatriate to live comfortably in an alien culture is essential for his or her successes. Multicultural adjustability refers to being sensitive to host culture, language fluency, diplomacy adaptability, positive attitude, emotional stability and maturity.

Appraising the performance: Appraising performance is a routine job but involves three key decisions areas: specifying on performance criteria, identifying the appraisers, and deciding on the frequency of appraisal.

Generally, performance criteria in any organization include outcomes and behaviors. Appraisers in an MNC include immediate managers/supervisors, team members and clients. Self appraisal is also in place. With regard to frequency of performance, MNC’S have almost the same periodicity as domestic firms. Frequency shall be once in three months, six months or once in a year.

Providing Feedback : Feedback refers to the information provided to the assessed about work behavior and outcomes. It helps control the work behavior of employees by directing their behavior through the provision of necessary feedback for corrective action.

The task of assessing performance and providing feedback in MNCs is compounded by time and distance. Physical distance between headquarters and subsidiary is long and time zones are different. But technological advancements have helped ease the difficulty to some extent. International manager do travel long distances and spend considerable time with subsidiary heads and employees, as part of assessment and feedback.

Opportunities for improvement: Performance feedback also helps in highlighting the need for training and development. Conducting appraisal, offering feedback and organizing training and developmental programs are all parts of performance management. These activities seek to provide opportunities to expatriates to improve, socialize, and adjust to local environment ably.

Linking rewards and results: The final activity in expatriate performance management relates to establishing linkages between performance and compensation. Rewards must follow performance. Only then there is positive reinforcement to repeat and performance.

HR-Professionals 12


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