Having selected the manager for the job, he or she must be trained. However, it is not sufficient to provide training only for the manager: the whole family must be trained.
Training should include at least two phases. Pre-departure training should focus on language, history and culture for the whole family and on job-specific training for the manager. On arrival in the new country two or three weeks without too much job-related activity should be allowed for adaptation to the new culture. Transition training should continue with language and culture training as well as meetings at which the new expatriates have the chance to mix with local residents and other foreign nationals.
Caring for expatriate managers does not cease at this point. The home office must remain alert to the need to provide psychological support in a variety of ways and to convince expatriates that they are not being disadvantaged for promotion by service in a foreign country. In this context the expatriate should get out of the host culture on a regular basis once or twice a year. The ability to ‘touch base’ with the home culture gives reassurance to expatriates that they are valued servants of the organization. It also helps in avoiding ‘culture shock’ when they finally return to the home country. People need to be prepared for re-entry to the home culture and the organization needs to provide the support facilities for this event.
We should be clear that training and management development are two different but related issues. Training is concerned primarily with the acquisition of skills (for example, learning a language), but may also refer to the acquisition of awareness (for example, cultural training). Development is the term used to describe a process in which the person is changed: that is, ‘developed’ through the acquisition of knowledge via some form of education program which may include some ‘training’. The distinction between training and management development may be made clearer by discussing the forms they take. Thus training may be:
- Cultural training, in which the trainee learns about the host country’s culture, history, politics, economy, religion and social and business practices
- Language training, in which the trainee learns a language other than his or her native tongue
- Specific skills training, in which the trainee learns communication skills, negotiation skills, and other skills needed by a practising manager. In this latter category we might find training in performance appraisal, total quality management, and training (as in ‘train the trainer’).
Management development might also be called ‘general education’ where the manager goes to school to learn how to be a manager. Management development subsumes a range of activities including:
- skills training
- in-house programs on a wide range of company-related topics
- external seminars and conferences on a wide range of topics relevant to company activities
- university courses
- job rotation and/or transfers within the company, including overseas postings
- exchange visits with other companies, usually within the same corporation
- networking with other managers within the company, with government officials and with manages of suppliers, customers and so on.