Involve your Partner or Spouse in the Process
After moving around the world, your partner or spouse is going to have to deal with many of the cultural awareness issues that you are facing. At every step of the process, get your partner involved. As your other half, they have a right to be just as prepared as you do. Partners should receive information on increasing cultural awareness and coaching about new cultural values. As fellow expatriates and global citizen, they need to be informed about the difficulties and challenges they will face. Partners form a vital part of an employee’s social support network. Being able to turn to them for help and trust them to come to your aid is a necessary part of adjusting to life abroad. Successful expats know this and trust their partners to form the backbone of the global leadership alongside them. Listen to your partner as you go through the process of becoming a part of the global citizenship.
Set Clear Expectations
Understanding the expectations out for you is the basis for being able to perform in any task. If you do not know what the job expects, it is exceptionally difficult to be able to perform it well. The first step for dealing with this problem is to request details about what exactly is expected of you. Clear outlines of what the mission and the job entail and the steps towards successfully completing it offer you the chance to know and fulfill your responsibilities.
Once the details of the mission are available, set about discovering what is locally available to help you in the assignment. Depending on the post, Internet access and other modern amenities may not be available. Learning how to work around these obstacles and thrive is of utmost importance in being able to perform any job and to adapt. People often make assumptions based on what was available in the United States.
When it comes to lifestyles abroad, these assumptions are just as dangerous. Although learning about your job’s demands is vitally important, being able to adjust your own expectation of life is even more significant. Life abroad will not be like it is at home. Although work life may be interesting and engaging, be prepared for your living situations to be different. In countries like Taiwan or Japan, expats can expect to live within smaller apartments and forego the use of ovens. This may not sound like a significant drawback, but it can compile over time with other incidents of culture shock.
Having clear expectations enables the expat and their family to easily meet and overcome challenges. With twenty-five to forty percent of international assignments being terminated early, expats need to be prepared for worst case scenarios and know how to meet their job requirements. Failing an assignment can affect your self-esteem and career detrimentally—as well as the image of applicants who follow you. Rise to the occasion and learn what is expected beforehand.
Expatriates have to undergo culture shock, the strains of moving, mental strain and a range of adjustments to life abroad. Over 200 million people currently live abroad and in the globalized labor force this number is continuously rising. Being able to adjust to the marketplace and the cultural norms of the country is the key to having a successful expatriation. 40% of leaders who go abroad fail at their overseas assignment—do not become one of them.
Within a year of returning to their home country, 1/5 former expatriates will leave their company. This can be due to a number of factors, but often it is due to the expatriate not being properly prepared by their company to life abroad. 4/5 of these new expatriates are not provided with any form of cultural awareness program by their organization. Even worse, 30% of expatriates express concern over not being able to adequately perform their task due to language barriers. What this amounts to is a cost of up to$250,000 for companies who have to deal with the negative impact of a failed assignment. These failed assignments result in both a negative impact for the expatriate, the organization and for other potential candidates.
As these fields grow—international assignments are expected to increase by 50% by the year 2020—companies need to find ways to properly train and prepare their employees for the strain of life abroad. Setting clear expectations, becoming open minded and planning ahead for difficulties are all a part of a proper integration program. New applicants should be prepared for the customs and cultural values of the area and learn not to judge it by their home country standards. Being abroad can be an eye-opening, rewarding experience as long as the expatriate can learn to accommodate for potential setbacks. Read More…