Dealing with expatriates is never an easy job and it requires constant research and continued interviews with the staff. This is mainly done to be sure one keeps in touch with the ever changing global environment in all aspects of life (York, 2010). Erick Christopher is a person with vast experience in the HR sector. He is also lucky to know different languages apart from his mother tongue. In addition, he has lived in different places, which has given him an upper hand because he can see things in a different way and come up with a solution to a problem. He has also worked for major companies including a restaurant and an airline company. These two have provided him with necessary skills and experience needed by the HR personnel. Considering his versatility, he is the better to handle the situation at Tex-Mark Company.
Eric’s problem arises from the company’s unstable policy in dealing with its expatriates who are highly skilled and marketable. The company is doing badly in its foreign assignment that takes longer periods than is budgeted for. This arises from employees who are satisfied with the assignments and are inadequately prepared in terms of handling work related to challenges abroad. The challenges can be classified into personal and official. The personal aspect arises from what the expatriate expects to gain from successful completion of any given project. An example in our case, Fred is promised a job which he misses due to extended project time. This makes him disappointed and angry although he is to blame because he did not take appropriate measures to ensure early completion. The official aspect can be cited as regulatory misunderstandings which arise from miscommunication, poor interpersonal skills as well as sabotage by foreign officials due to attitude problems between the expatriates and the locals. This can be generally attributed to workplace diversity based on culture differences as well as different backgrounds of the two parties involved (Dowling & Welch, 2008). Eric’s main challenge is convincing the Vice President to adopt a new and rigorous program for expatriate preparation that would involve a budgetary expansion yet the Vice president was keen on cost cuts.
Faster appointments cannot work because this would translate to ill prepared employees and so misunderstandings with foreign regulatory officials might prevail and lead to longer assignments in spite of short time allocated for them. The same applies for thin training programs. Tex-Mark is a company that intends to continue its global expansion strategy; and therefore, what the company needs is a permanent exchange program preferably done at entry and lower management levels. Effectiveness depends on targeting the young and single employees who have fewer commitments especially arising from family. This should ensure that if any foreign assignment arises, a senior employee would have a junior but highly enlightened colleague to act as a guide. The juniors should assist in management of other official duties apart from the main assignment, thus forming a kind of on-job mentoring (York, 2010). They should be able to assist in communication and teach the expatriates foreign languages as well. This is a long term investment that would ensure smooth running of assignments. The other solution is having a well executed research in all aspects before finally dispatching the expatriates. This should ensure timeliness of assignments and so irregularities will be foreseen in advance. The main strategy to proceed with in the meeting should be based entirely on cost aspect. Eric should be firm in comparing expatriates costs to the revenues from the foreign project. This should lessen duration of the project as the main point of focus rather than costs of engaging expatriates. Once he convinces the Vice president to focus on costs from the assignment duration perspective rather than the expatriates, then tackling the issue of how to cut down costs should be straight forward and easy to quantify.
Shifting focus to managing the time of duration would directly cut down the additional expenses associated with project extension. This would ensure that work does not interfere with the personal plans of employees because disgruntled employees negatively affect revenue directly. This might further lead to losing some experienced and invaluable employees like Fred to competitors and so the process of hiring replacements and training will be much more expensive. Simply put, retaining an employee at extra costs is cheaper than hiring, training and nurturing new employees to the same level within a short period of time (Dowling & Welch, 2008). Proper research should shield the company from negative effects of miscommunication of their employees with foreign regulatory bodies. This would lead to official intervention rather than personal contact between expatriates and the regulators as Fred’s case in Mexico.
My solution takes advantage of the problem by establishing exchange and mentoring programs which are excellent ways of on-job training in human resource management. This should directly reduce the costs of training employees as well as produce very efficient employees based on their practical experience. This would also ensure that the three initially preferred options can be engaged namely: faster appointments, shortening project durations and having a thin training program.
Eric’s experience should helps in the social aspect of the problem but has the shortcoming of not helping the expatriates instantly. He can teach all of them neither languages nor cultural differences as soon as it is required. This would rather come in handy when interventions from the main office are required in cases of miscommunication and setting records straight between foreign communities, regulatory bodies and the expatriates. I would approach this situation differently by ensuring constant communication with the expatriates especially on their personal needs and challenges. This should be able to tackle most of their worries; and therefore, they will fully focus on timely completion of projects. Moreover, constant communication would help solve problems; and therefore, any misunderstandings between the staff members and the management should not arise.
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