How do you select staff for international assignments? It's an important question because, no matter how effective and successful your employees may be at home, they cannot be guaranteed same performance in a different culture unless they can demonstrate some key competencies and these may be quite different from competencies they need to succeed in their own environment.
To begin with they need to be receptive to host culture. This will mean that when they face new ideas, new ways of working, new people, different values, they can accept these as different but valid. If they go with firm belief that their own way of doing things is only way, if they are suspicious of new people they meet, and if they cannot respect values of their host culture, they will simply engender hostility, fear and antagonism—hardly best climate for a successful team effort.
Building on that receptiveness, they will have to be sufficiently adaptable to blend into local style of doing things. Take working hours. Mediterranean cultures often have early starts, long lunch breaks and late finishes. It's a timetable that takes some getting used to because that lunchtime break really does need to be a time when you wind down and rest, otherwise working day and its related stresses will occupy every waking minute. Not everybody is capable of adapting their natural rhythms to this. Employees with family commitments may also find it very hard, so in assessing suitability of somebody for an overseas position, you need to ensure that their family is fully supportive of move.
It is also essential to be able to take an objective view of host culture and not to judge new colleagues. For example, a manager who moves to a culture in which normal working environment is very hierarchical should not be surprised if individuals lack initiative. What may seem a negative quality from a British perspective could well be a strength in local context.
Given that new environment could make yours manager feel like fish out of water, it is important for them to have clarity of vision. As they face many hurdles that arise from different ways of working and living that characterize new environment, they will have to be able keep a hold on their purpose for being there. They will need to let that vision drive their actions so that progress towards required goals is maintained despite obstacles. And part of this clarity of vision should be pre-assignment awareness of new culture and its framework so that they are prepared for what they will find and have thought of some coping strategies.