How to Succeed while on a Global Assignment

global assignmentHave you just moved halfway around the world, sold your belongings or placed them in storage? Do you struggle to learn the local language? Are you on a plane most of the time, constantly jet lagged and have a huge fog in your head? Is headquarters calling you for regular updates? Do you feel like you owe your company for sending you in this assignment that you are willing to work day and night to prove your worth? You take conference calls at all times, they seem to forget that you are in a different time zone.

In the meantime, your personal life is non-existent, business pressures don’t seem to lighten up and you have not had the time to explore your new world.  You set some goals before you took this assignment – trips to explore the local sights, learn the local language, make friends with locals, but your work and travel have taken priority and you are stressed and lack sleep.

As glamorous as the word expat may sound, the reality of many expats lives are far from it.  Expats do not travel for leisure or live a life of discovery and exploration. Expats work long hours and take on the pressure of running the local business. They do not have their support system and they miss their family and friends.

The difficulties of expat lives can be managed and the assignment can be memorable and career enhancing.  Handled well, this could be a period of huge growth and development for the expat, their family and their careers.  What are some of the ways that your expat assignment can be successful?

  1. Keep headquarters regularly informed.  Set up regular calls or emails to let your bosses know the local conditions.  Try not to surprise them.  If you have bad news, deliver bad news in a timely manner with a couple of solutions that you have vetted out with your local team members.  Stay connected with mentors back in the home country and set up regular calls with them.
  2. Develop a new support system locally.  Find people who you can trust inside the company and outside.  Join your local professional organization and make the time to nurture new relationships.
  3. Learn at least 10 most popular local words – words of greeting, respect, agreement or disagreement, common courtesy words.
  4. Find a way to exercise regularly or find ways to keep your mind, body and spirit clear and centered.
  5. Figure out the number of weekends or vacation days that you have and plan to see the local sights.  Book your tickets.  Before you know it, your assignment is up and you would not have been able to see the sights if you didn’t plan in advance for it.
  6. Plan your home vacations yearly so you have something to look forward to.  Keep connected with friends and family through social media.
  7. Hire a local coach, find a trusted mentor.  This has been the most valuable thing I have done while on expat assignment, one that I would recommend to everyone outside of their home country.  Your trusted coach will help you gain perspective, reframe your thinking, challenge you when needed or push you out of your comfort zone to grow.

 

Being out of your comfort zone, while difficult, is a period of high growth and eventually high rewards.  An expat assignment is not for everyone, but you have that call inside you and you have it in you to succeed. With the right moves and a trusted support system, the benefits of an expat assignment far outweigh the challenges and difficulties.  Enjoy the journey.

Linked In
Twitter
RSS Feed
Facebook
Google+
Pinterest
You Tube
Shaking hands of two business peopleNCHRA Logo

Are You Connecting? Maximizing Your Communication Style to Build Credibility:  Learn More>>

Testimonials
Loading Quotes...

Why Hire a coach?

Top Reasons Coaches are Engaged:

(HBR Jan 2009)

    • Develop high potentials or facilitate transition: 48%
    • Act as a sounding board: 26%
    • Address derailing behavior: 12%