International relocation and decision making
It's HOW the employee experience begins that makes the difference
International relocation is a huge decision, so people should research it as thoroughly as they do other decisions.
In the latest 'Thriving Abroad Podcast' interview with Ines Nascimento, Ines shares her fascinating dual perspective on global mobility: an international HR professional and expat adventurer. She relocated intentionally in order to develop her understanding of the experience she supported in her professional role.
Ines was not disappointed by her experience:
"It’s a transformative experience in my opinion. A unique way of challenging yourself. Getting to know yourself better. Knowing you can thrive in almost any environment if you put your focus and your energy well into that. It changes you professionally and personally too."
The brilliant thing is that she can now bring that lived experience and perspective to her role in HR and global mobility.
Our conversation highlighted to me the benefit of experience. It provides valuable perspective and understanding of the contextual nuances of international relocation.
Being prepared for international relocation's
This is something first time employees who are asked to take an international assignment do not have. If they have never lived abroad, holidays and short business trips may be their nearest point of comparison. And it is questionable how helpful these experiences are when it comes to full scale international relocation.
Holidays are often exciting, adventurous times, where we see the best of any given location. If any-thing bad happens, it’s short-lived. We’ll be heading home soon. Business trips are also short-term and do not require the same level of personal disruption, or cultural and general adjustment, as longer term relocation.
Applying this holiday or business trip mentality to a relocation decision can mean that assignee's and families depart with unrealistic expectations. The experience is viewed through rose tinted spectacles and that potentially sets the assignee and family up for disappointment.
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The importance of research
Not many people would buy a house without thorough research of the local area, schools, and in depth structural and local surveys. Nor would they change jobs on a whim.
Strange then that when it comes to international relocation, one of the biggest life changes anyone can make, decisions are often made quickly and with incomplete information. As Ingolf Thom, of DOW Chemical said in an interview with us for our recently published book:
"People don’t know what they don’t know. A decision to move overseas is a more complicated one than the decision to change companies, and yet few people do as much homework and they are often forced to make a decision in a very short time."
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Education is the first step
At Thriving Abroad, the belief is that step one to success in international relocation is ensuring that decisions are based on the firm foundation of thorough research and consideration. Education is the first step. It provides the understanding and context on which informed decisions can be made. It is important the employee:
- Understands the work opportunity- The role, the responsibilities, the objectives and how this fits into their personal career vision.
- Develops an understanding of the ‘context’ of international relocation- Challenges (the potential hotspots) and the opportunities and benefits for the assignee and partner/family.
- Considers how the opportunity fits within the context of their professional, personal and family aspirations.
- Understands the potential impact of relocation for their partner from a professional and personal perspective.
- Understands the support policies and processes provided for the assignee and family.
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