Category Archives: Global Mobility

We thought we should pull together the main reasons according to our experience that hinder expat spouses from finding a job in the host country. This is a non-scientific analysis based on opinion and experience. There a number of studies dedicated to the topic though. Mainly Global Mobility providers research how family impacts expat failure. In my view this is not enough. We should investigate how we can bring down the barriers to host employment. Let me know if you think I forgot an important topic.

Why is it so difficult for expat spouses to find a job in the host country? Here is a short analysis of the issues.

Work Permit Restrictions

Finding a job is not as straightforward for many of my clients as it is in their home countries. Work permit restrictions are a significant barrier to expat spouse employment. Not every country issues a work permit to the married spouse. Let alone the diversity of life partners mentioned earlier.

Lack of Host Language Skills

Even though the expat might work for a global company most jobs in the host country will require host language skills. Unless you move from the UK to the USA, you often will not have the language skills required to work in the host country.

Lack of Recognition of University Degrees in Regulated Fields

While within the EU we can assume that university degrees will be recognized due to the common job market, a Brazilian doctor cannot work in a hospital in Switzerland. We call this a “regulated profession”.

Lack of Transferable Knowledge

Lawyers, tax consultants, and even HR Professionals are often experts in their country, but the knowledge is often limited to the country and not transferrable. Even moving from Canada to Australia can be tricky if you are a lawyer.

Lack of Professional Networks

Another issue is the lack of a professional network, which gives access to the untapped and informal labor market in the host country. Often you can only join professional associations when you are in a corporate role or when you have graduated in the country.

Lack of Support in the Global Mobility Policy

Only very forward thinking global mobility and global recruiting policies address the need for support for “trailing” dual career partner. While ten years ago dual-career issues on international assignments were solved by sticking to a classical Western nuclear “family” models, we now want to adhere to the needs of dual careers, patchwork families, Eastern “family” models, same-sex partners and unmarried de- facto relationships.

Visionary Global Mobility policies address various support models ranging from providing a lump sum to spousal career coaching. As an intercultural career advisor, I also work with clients who decide to start a global, transferable business so that they can follow their life partner to other locations and become location-independent. Thanks to technology I can support clients in NYC as well as in Mumbai. We also support candidates to improve their personal branding in the host market, learn to network effectively, improve their interview skills and online presentations but GM Leaders need to update their policies

We also support candidates to improve their personal branding in the host market, learn to network effectively, improve their interview skills and online presentations. Global Mobility Leaders should update their policies and promote spouse support services rather than pay lump sums.

Intercultural bias of our Recruiters

Our recruiters often do not understand intercultural differences. Recruiters often don’t understand résumés from another country and outsourcing of talent specialists into HR shared service centers has not improved the chances of “foreign” candidates in the recruitment process.

Most selection methods and assessments are culturally biased. For example, in Switzerland, psychometric testing and other assessments of candidates are used to assess candidates next to interviews. Riedel (2015) shows examples where highly skilled candidates from China fell through the assessment roster in a German company because of their indirect communication style.

Unconscious bias of Sending Home Sponsors

PwC issued a study in 2016 on female expatriation where it becomes very obvious that a lot more women would be interested in an international assignment than the ones that are actually sent.

This is probably due to the unconscious bias of the sending home sponsors who assume a female manager is not mobile even though she might have mentioned it several times. I speak from experience.

Lack of Research to Measure Impact of Dual Career Programs

In 2012 ETH Zurich conducted extensive research with several European universities on barriers to dual careers within the EU and EFTA countries. While this research probably focused on scientists it is hardly known. We assume that companies working with support programs for their dual career population seem to have higher retention rates but we lack scientific evidence. I am highly encouraging students and lecturers to address this issue.

To sum it up there is still a lot to do in order to integrate the needs of dual career couples in the expatriation process.

On the receiving end, I can report that more and more expat spouses are male. There is hope.

The Global Mobility Workbook (Third Edition) (Paperback) can be purchased on amazon now. For bulk orders, click here.

References:

Riedel, Tim (2015): “Internationale Personalauswahl” 

Weinberger, A. (2019): “The Global Mobility Workbook”, Global People Transitions, Zurich.

Weinberger, A. (2015): „Interkulturell denken bringt Vorteile“ Persorama Summer 2015.

By Caitlin Krause

A new calendar year prompts a feeling of open possibility, and a curiosity to discover and realize our greatest potentials, in business and beyond. We’re undoubtedly living in times of rapid change and high demand; times of immense challenge. I certainly feel it– all I need to do is glance at daily news headlines to have a feeling of perspective and urgency.

We want to ensure that the work we’re doing is valued; we want to know that it matters, and matches our own personal goals and resolutions (which, let’s face it, span far beyond the hype and trend of the new year). We strive to maintain a sense of balance, as we navigate this complex world, maintaining focus and resilience, while maximizing our capabilities. In addition, the global corporate culture and increased connectivity require even more flexibility, and broader skill sets that encompass a range of intelligences, including emotional intelligence and empathy.

Instead of feeling daunted, it’s the ideal time for us to invite some mindfulness into the equation. Here we are in a complex, fascinating environment, ripe with opportunity. The field of global mobility and intercultural exchange has never been more exciting– and, there has never been a higher demand for everyone to develop these skills and abilities, across all industries and vocations. It’s a time when adopting a modern, holistic global competency model is imperative– one that embraces a flexible, resilient mindset. Integrating mindfulness values and practices into a model of global competency makes perfect sense, and has significant long-term benefits for career, health, well-being and happiness.

I have a client who travels between five hub cities, located in three separate continents, on a regular basis. In each place, she has a slightly different lifestyle, and varied expectations to fulfill the job requirement. When she discovered the uses mindfulness has in increasing flexibility, resilience, and stress management, she was amazed at the positive impact. Mindfulness, and specifically the methods I’ve developed, can be summed up by 3 A’s: awareness, advancement, and authenticity. I custom-design mindfulness programs that are experiential, practical, and sustainable. By focusing on providing support, engagement, personalization and expertise, individuals can build on the traditional dimensions of the Global Competency Model described by Weinberger (2016) that are already well-recognized in truly diverse intercultural competency programs.

The connection between global competency and mindfulness is clear, and it’s enhanced my own experience. When I first moved overseas to Belgium, I was busy teaching, coaching, and adjusting to the new environment at the same time– plus, setting up a home. I was impatient with myself for struggling with my basic-level French; at the same time, I didn’t yet anticipate the cultural norms that take time to adjust to– everything from taking a ticket as a number to stand in line at the bakery to the fact that all stores are closed on Sundays, which was the one day that I didn’t coach or teach full-time– this was constantly a surprise, and my initial reaction was to look at my own naïveté as a form of failure.

Mindfulness taught me to flip this concept– I embraced my own enhanced awareness, celebrating the foibles that I could then laugh about, convincing myself that someday they will become part of a book (which could be a Bill Bryson spinoff titled: “Bumbling through Belgium”). I began to feel gratitude for my vitality– for the very feeling, uncomfortable at times, that reminds me that I’m alive(!). I felt immensely grateful for the mix of backgrounds and experiences that create the unexpected. I also grew to appreciate that a population is not homogenous, yet we share underlying truths and a certain mutual respect and dignity. These insights are also embedded in mindfulness– an appreciation for what is, in the moment, even as we set-goals and look toward the emerging future.

In a globalised working culture, mindfulness is especially valuable because it gives agency back to the individual. It gave me a better sense of stability, even in situations that were beyond my ability to anticipate and fully control. Because of this, mindfulness also increased my connection capacity in place of fragmentation. In other words, I was able to reach out and connect with others more easily, because I was more self-aware and had developed skills of resiliency. I was confident, not despite my challenges, but because of them. In Stanford researcher Carol Dweck’s seminal book Mindset, she relates this capacity to growth mindset, and it’s all about mindfulness, self-awareness, and embracing the rigor instead of denying or avoiding it.

We live in the midst of a global corporate climate that is rife with burnout, stress and depression. Recent studies cite stress and burnout as the top threat to workplace health, resulting in great losses across all quality measurement areas, including employee work satisfaction, job retention, company culture, and revenue. The rate of burnout continues to increase each year; mindfulness is seen as a top strategy and method to provide burnout prevention. Instead of succumbing to this threatening trend, looking at establishing an environment that promotes the best, most adaptive and advantageous state of well-being is the answer for global leadership.

As a burnout prevention measure, stress reducer, leadership and confidence booster, creativity cultivator, and overall well-being motivator and life enhancer, mindfulness serves as a necessary base layer for a holistic model of leadership, learning and global competency. For me, it’s a lens to look through, and it can be applied to just about everything.

This could be why, when I’m asked to define mindfulness, I call it simply: “a way to be in the world”– with awareness (understanding of surrounding context), advancement (having a sense of purpose), and authenticity (detaching from judgment; focusing on situations while maintaining resilience). I use these three A’s as foundational pillars for designing applications and programs.

Being globally competent involves developing a wide range of capacities– and, the ability to truly reflect on the learning experience and acknowledge the complexity of global systems involves great awareness– including cultural awareness, emotional awareness and self awareness.

I apply this philosophy with many different practical approaches, making it real, personal, holistic, and able to be experienced by each individual in a powerful way. In addition, it reinforces the sense of community, which is perfectly in-line with global mobility dimensions of supporting the whole person in a long-term, reflective approach that encompasses a multitude of lifelong learning facets and personal experiences.

Recognizing our own multi-dimensional natures and experiences, this makes perfect sense, allowing us to build our abilities and reach goals while staying grounded in this complex, inter-connected global landscape. Combining mindfulness and global competency could yield a new, even more powerful concept: mindful global competency. Let’s test it out!

Kicking off the New Year, I have already dedicated myself to several aspirations and goals, many of which are definitely “curiosity-driven” pursuits, all embedded in a framework of mindful global competency. I’ll invite you to try out a few exercises, to test the process for yourself and give it a go. See what it feels like to sit down and write your own answers to the following. Just go with where your reflections take you, in the moment, without over-thinking:

  • Awareness: Record something, in a description, that made you happy yesterday. Include as many of the five senses as possible. For example, if you were happy when you went for a hike in the woods, try to describe the temperature, the feel of it, the colors and sights around you, etc. Try to bring yourself back there through the writing.
  • Advancing: Write down three attributes that you have that you value in yourself– these could be any quality, from trustworthiness to funny to For each quality, what is a life situation that you have experienced– an “anecdote”– that illustrates it in your life? Feel free to think of examples that have humor. Could you practice by sharing this out loud with someone else? Sometimes, these illustrated moments make for great connection points, yet we deny ourselves the right to “own them” and appreciate them.
  • Authentic: Think back to an experience where the time itself was not what you expected in the short term, yet it offered some sort of long-term benefit. Describe the situation in detail, using a “before” perspective (anticipation), a “during” (experience), and an “after” (reflection). What do you appreciate about it now, in hindsight? How do you think it adds some flavor and dimension to your life?

Sometimes, just taking time to record our own reflections and thoughts about these experiences can lend us deeper clarity and insight. For me, building components of writing and storytelling into my mindfulness practice adds an extra layer of appreciation, insight, and what I call “connection capacity”. May it add to your life, too. After all, 2017 is wide open with possibility, and we all want to make the most of that!

Wishing you a wonderful year, filled with surprise and delight, enjoying the ride.

Caitlin

 

Guest post by Caitlin Krause, Founder & CEO, MindWise.

Caitlin Krause  is a creative collaborator  with a curiosity-driven mindset. As the founder of MindWise, she’s a writer, storyteller, teacher, speaker, VR designer, artist and leadership specialist. Her passion for active, sustainable, ethically-driven leadership and learning models drives her work. 

Empowering personal and organizational change, MindWise’s core “AAA” values are: Aware, Advancing, and Authentic. Caitlin integrates best practices and new discoveries about creativity, neuroscience, mindfulness and technology to promote immersive empathetic experiences on a local and global scale. 

 

Reference:

Weinberger, A. (2016): The Global Mobility Workbook, print ed., Global People Transitions, Zurich


Feedback can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the context and the type of feedback. This experiential workshop takes us on a journey to examine giving and receiving feedback and to explore alternatives to traditional feedback exchanges.

Feedback and its Alternatives – an Exploration for Global, Mindful People

An explorative workshop with Adrienne Rubatos and Angie Weinberger applying concepts and tools based on the Vermeulen-Analysis-Model and the Vermeulen & Kinast coaching school.

An essential concern of this workshop is to deconstruct feedback in general, but especially the traditional Western approach of “giving feedback”, which still dominates the business world. Global folks are demanding a new approach to feedback, an approach that is mindful, supportive and transcultural.

The workshop will seek to support you in developing these new feedback styles.

Both facilitators have experienced constructive and destructive feedback, in the context of corporate, author or coaching roles directly with herself or with her clients. Indeed this was the starting point for deepening knowledge on the topic and for experimenting with new feedback forms.

Researching among global peers, general uncertainty in recommending suitable forms of feedback, especially between high and low context cultures can be observed. Surprisingly even in Western countries, traditionally known for directness, a new openness towards more creative, collaborative and non-hierarchal feedback styles is growing. Such feedback treated with reflection and mindfulness on both sides of the feedback process can lead to personal and professional growth.

The workshop invites participants to explore the concept of “mindful feedback” further.

Beside rich content, sharing of experiences among the participants and collective exploration of the topic, participants will also benefit from exploring alternative, less known methods: body learning, relationship explorations, dyads, meditation elements, sensing, metaphors, dancing, drawing, and spiritual wisdom. These interventions generally help to build self-awareness, self-confidence and a strong personal and leadership presence even in complex environments, like global teams.

The facilitators practice these in their everyday personal and professional lives. Most of them originate in the Vermeulen-Analysis-Model and the coaching school around it, which certified a limited number of coaches only.

We invite participants of low and high context cultures, both senior and junior professionals 

  • who want to deepen and widen his/her use of feedback and its alternatives
  • who want to enrich his/her coaching or training methods
  • who practice self-support and peer coaching
  • who want to sharpen his/herself-awareness through body work and mindful practices
  • who are open to exchange, experiment and learn in a collaborative style.

The workshop has multiple goals:

At a personal level

  • to review our past and create new personal experiences around feedback situations
  • to develop ourselves by learning new methods of collaboration, reflection, inquiry, self-coaching and deep-preparation for feedback situations

At the content level

  • to tackle, in a new depth and width, the components of, and the conditions necessary for, feedback
  • to look at methods and models to transform feedback, or even the wisdom to replace it

At the business application level

  • how we can learn to react, treat or receive feedback from our clients in a self-respecting way
  • to develop intercultural feedback styles for our clients, that they can apply to team members of various cultural backgrounds
  • to incorporate suitable technology designs, media and tools to receive messages from the clients (e.g. personal debriefing, social media, wish lists to the manager, feedback wall…)

Registration and Fee

This is a pre-conference workshop to the SIETAR Congress Dublin, 25 to 27 Mai 2017

www.sietareu.org/the-congress/pre-congress-workshops

Early Early Bird Fee until 28 Feb 2017 is EUR 390 (incl. 23% VAT).

The number of workshop participants is limited. First-come, first-served.

If you have any questions please contact us via adrienne.rubatos@t-online.de and angela.weinberger@globalpeopletransitions.com

Registration here.

Your facilitators


Adrienne Rubatos

Intercultural Consultant, Trainer and Executive Coach

Adrienne Rubatos is a senior change management and intercultural consultant, trainer and coach specialized on cooperation between East and West in Europe. She accompanies mainly multinationals in their complex international programs. Before, she gathered 16 years of industry and management experience, which took her around the globe. She holds a Master in Electrical-Engineering and an Executive-MBA degree, as well as various certifications in coaching, consulting and intercultural studies. She enjoys travels and languages, speaking six of them. Adrienne is an associate professor of IBR (global MBA program in Africa, Eastern-Europe, India, Israel) within Steinbeis University Berlin since twelve years, teaching currently HR. She is the author of diversophy®Romania, the book “Beruflich in Rumänien”, numerous articles and SIETAR conference papers. She descends from Transylvania, lives in Germany and works globally. Her growing passion is both meta-perspectives and small mindful and embodiment practices included to her work and life.

Angie Weinberger

Angie Weinberger

Global Career Advisor, Executive Coach and Global Mobility Expert

Angie Weinberger, who graduated in International Business Studies, lived and worked in Germany, the UK, India and Australia before moving to Zurich in 2009. She has worked in HR and Global Mobility in large global corporates like Winterthur, Deutsche Bank, PwC, LafargeHolcim for 20 years. She founded Global People Transitions offering intercultural executive and career coaching to internationally mobile professionals through programs such as HireMe! and RockMe! both for corporate and private clients. Angie has a systemic consultancy background and is a certified professional intercultural coach (B.Vermeulen & Dr.E. Kinast) with a focus on relationship building, mindfulness and body awareness. She is a founding and active Board member of SIETAR Switzerland and volunteers in a variety of social projects. She published various books, recently “The Global Career Workbook” – a self-help job search guide for internationally mobile professionals. She learns Arabic and loves Bollywood Dancing.


Guest Post by Valerie Priestley

Moving country and within a country has become a way of life for me. Along the road I learned first how to adapt to the employment market: going from a city to a little province town taught me the importance of researching employment possibilities and thus being able to make an educated decision: Could I only work in a market research consultancy specialized in the construction industry or was I agile enough to embrace a career change?

My next big move forced me to consider my family as a whole and decide what was best for us as a unit. The advantages of opening up to a new culture, mastering a new language, thus giving a huge life advantage to our two daughters, moving forward the career of my husband largely outweighed my newish promotion as a branch manager. This move which started as a bit of a dare soon evolved into a project which had to be led successfully. The integration of 4 people depended on it. The financial aspect came only second to the improvement of quality of life.

Working in the financial sector obviously helped me enormously to fathom out what our financial or taxation situation would be; i.e. no double taxation within the EU. We got help where needed to correctly appreciate the remuneration package that was laid on the table, for example to try and evaluate the cost of living, renting levels (1st item on a family budget),… We both activated our networks to gather as much information as possible before accepting the relocation. The head of HR of a big international company explained the different items they offered their expats. Other expats we got to know gently offered their time to walk us through their integration.  Their experience raised more questions, forced us stop and think about what we expected from the change in our -until then, very rewarding life, to examine what education we wanted to give our daughters, the effect on both our careers.

I took a huge amount of time and effort to get to know  where the schools were, how they operated, how easy it was to travel by public transport, what social life we could have, how the social security system and health insurance work and cost, where to find a GP, health specialist, shops… These every day details have to be taken into account to decide where you would like to settle down. This should not be underestimated: I have witnessed families failing to integrate because of a lack of prior questioning and knowledge.

Relocation agencies, are they worth it? The answer to that question relies not only on the quality of the provided service but also on the allocated budget. Their knowledge of the local market is an undeniable asset. But the last move unveiled yet another reality: some landlords are reluctant or totally against dealing with relocating agencies. So be prepared to have to roll up your sleeves if you want to make sure you live where you evaluated would be the best spot for you. Priority setting is a must: location versus cost of rent for example, this needs to be agreed upon by all involved in decision making.

Choosing a new home could be turned into a great opportunity for younger ones to feel involved in the decision-making process: before making visits our daughters were briefed to take care of certain missions. Each one was to concentrate on assigned rooms, take pictures and make note of what she liked most about it or what would make it hard for her and us to consider living in the property. The debriefing turned into a lively conversation and in the end help towards the success of the relocation.

I took the opportunity of each move abroad to master a new language: without a budget for it at first – I learned on the job. English then became kind of my second mother tongue or family language.  Language courses designed for expats or even better a one on one course should be included in a relocation package as speaking the local language is not only a question of politeness to the locals but also a passport to finding a job specially for the accompanying spouse or partner, a necessity to be understood by your new car mechanic, GP etc.

With the move the honeymoon period of the project finishes, the hard work of making a nest, joining communities starts. Join existing clubs to meet your new best friends.  Truth be told with each day you are given new opportunities to learn something new. I could not live without that challenge.

During this phase, discover and make the most of the new surroundings as you never know how much time you have to enjoy it. Life is full of surprises. No matter how well you planned your career, for example going back to university to retrain and find your dream job – my case, some economic or personal parameter changes and throws a spanner in your well-oiled system – my case !

And it is time to start afresh…new experience, new excitement, new opportunities to learn something…

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Valerie Priestley

Valérie Priestley is an experienced professional with a focus on HR and a background in both financial services and the marketing sector. Her thirst for knowledge and desire to help others grow led her to return to university and successfully gain a Masters in training in 2014. Bilingual French-English she rose to the challenge and now works in German.

Global Mobility Policies are biased

Traditional global mobility policies written by Western companies with their outlook on taxation, international assignments and a home-based compensation approach do not fit today’s world any longer. They had a cultural understanding of a nuclear family and terminology from the Army.

We Global Mobility Professionals often sound like we are at war. We speak about home and host country, expatriation, repatriation or hardship as if our patria or home territory was the only island of happiness in the world.

We coined the term “home leave” to suggest that only “at home” we can relax and enjoy our life, while at the foreign outposts in Mombasa and Rio de Janeiro we are at war with the local population.

As Global Mobility Professionals, we are surprised that the stream of inbounds and outbounds has changed. These days the main expatriation routes are no longer going out from Europe or the US. We see assignees from China going to Switzerland, India to Sweden and Indonesia to Holland. We managed London to New York and now it is Casablanca to Mombasa or Caracas to Madrid.

A lot of moves and a lot of different cultural assumptions question the traditional models.

What is “fair” in a global team?

It is hard to say what is “fair” in a global team. Will you accept that your colleague from India gets paid about 50% of your salary? Do you find it ethical that your passport qualifies you to a better standard of living? Is the home-approach still feasible in a non-colonial, non-hierarchical and skill-based “eco-system”? Are we innovative enough in Global Mobility or are we repeating patterns of society that are as outdated as the suit I’m wearing to work today?

We’ve known for years that expats discuss their benefits but they used to do it secretly back in the nineties. I’m pretty sure now there is a WhatsApp-Group to discuss your benefits package by location.

Why should you believe your employer is giving you the best package possible? Why should you believe that the policy applies in your case when everyone up in the higher ranks seems to get an exception?

Generation Y populates the workforce. The “I”-Generation is more individualistic and used to instant gratification. This generation does not accept a one-size fit all principle. Policy segmentation is a start but I think we need to customize our proposals to assignees and their families even further.

Coming from an egalitarian culture, being fair and giving fair chances to everyone has always been important to me. Over the years I have learned though, that the assignees with the best negotiation skills have the best packages. Female assignees and assignees from less assertive cultures on the other hand often accept what they have been offered. Their request for amendments is quiet and not understood.

Senior management can request anything and often is it granted. For them “policy” is almost like a red flag that needs to be challenged.

We assume that assignees need financial incentives and that financials are the major consideration point when deciding whether to go on an international assignment or not.

We should consider skill development, learning opportunities, living conditions and extra services and build them into the benefits matrix. Providing these will also give more equity in the host country. I also believe that the classical home approach won’t last very much longer. Until we can fully customize packages we will need better GM Technology, engaged Global Mobility Managers and above all HR leaders with an international mindset.

Angie Weinberger

You might also want to attend the “Building the Global Mobility Business Case”-Workshop by Expatise Academy in Amsterdam on 23 JAN 2018.