I feel that the era of treating people as numbers on a spreadsheet needs to change, don’t you?

Steps in the right direction are already being taken and I believe that Global Mobility professionals and their increasing value in businesses is the example to rally behind. For the uninitiated, let’s talk today about how you as Human Resources or Global Mobility Professionals can demonstrate and amplify the value they bring to organizations. We had our guest blogger Kevin Castro tackle this very topic last year and it remains highly relevant today, so we are re-sharing the main ideas.

Agile is Fragile

First and foremost, Global Mobility professionals need to be agile. The goal posts are shifting all the time – organizations are reevaluating what is critical to business needs rapidly and adjusting the focus of their teams accordingly. Not only do you need to be aware of these changes as they happen, but you also need to be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. Agility is the name of the game the most successful professionals in the industry right now are those on top of these trends.

That said, we have yet to test the boundaries of agility and how quickly we can adapt in the face of great change, for instance, how we can use integrated vendor platforms such as TOPIA with all the data protection regulations within Europe. There’s also the issue of adoption of agile technologies. For instance, I find that sometimes, even using a shared document on Google Drive or OneDrive already seems to be considered innovative for many companies I work with. (Some often still have paper files!)

Business Acumen and Language

Second, and this one is for those who interact with business leaders, start engaging with them on matters that concern the business directly. By conversing with the various team leaders, you will gain a better understanding of business goals and targets – this understanding will help you make the right suggestions that help the business get closer to those goals! In addition, this sort of engagement will put you in a better position to demonstrate your value – more on that in the next section. A great example would be to understand the growth markets of the company you work for and gaining deeper insights into their legislation. For example, if your growth potential is in India, try to at least understand an Indian payroll slip. (I know that this is almost impossible, but hey we love challenges.)

Communication

An important but often ignored part of demonstrating one’s value is the simplest: communication. Communication is key to a successful personal life but it’s equally important to the well-being of your professional one! It’s a well-known secret that many organizations slip up when it keeps to assignment tracking, so why not remind them, regularly? It’s for your good, after all. A presentation, an email, a newsletter, highlighting key successes and listing all that you’ve accomplished will go a long way in ensuring that senior leadership is aware of the value you bring the company. When was the last time you mentioned a successful expatriation of key talent to the C-Suite? When did you create a report that showed the company the cost-saving you achieved by creating a more effective compensation and operating model?

Expertise

Finally, it is critical for any GM professional to know how to flaunt their expertise. This sounds like common sense but in my experience, I’ve found it surprising just how many people express hesitation or reluctance when it comes to the subject of selling one’s skills. It’s important for all professionals, doubly so for GM professionals! You are the expert of your field, that’s why you were hired after all – you should demonstrate this expertise more often.

Our domain is a rapidly evolving playing field of ever-shifting requirements, technologies, and expectations. This is in addition to the language, cultural and geographical integration requirements. You –  are expected to have a multitude of knowledge, attitude, skills and you need to learn to constantly reflect your experiences and integrate body learning into your attributes.

Develop and Grow Global Competency

I tackled this topic in detail on last week’s “Club Sandwich”, you can catch up with the post here.

One way to build your knowledge base is to join the Global Mobility courses at the Expatise Academy in Rotterdam, Holland.  I’m currently teaching several courses, which are all now available to YOU, online. My courses deal with Global Mobility Competencies, while also focusing on intercultural competency, building solid international assignment business cases and most importantly, bringing the human touch back into our processes. There are all sorts of other technical courses available as well, by experts in the fields of immigration, taxation, social security, and employment law.

Check out the new and shiny “Educate Yourself Platform” by Expatise Academy now.  

Please mention me when you sign up to qualify for a discount via this link or email learning@expatise.academy.

Let’s keep our momentum going and aim to be even better at what we do. I believe in the “Future of Global Mobility” (#FoGM) and that we will grow in scope and influence.

Kind regards,
Angie Weinberger

PS: If you mention anything relevant on social media, don’t forget to brand it with #GlobalMobility.

Why it is so difficult to come up with a good curriculum for Global Mobility

As you probably understood already the arena of Global Mobility is vast and no Global Mobility Manager will have all the answers. If you enjoy constant challenges and a day that never looks the same Global Mobility could be right for you. However, you also need to be very structured, focussed and analytical. For Global Mobility Educators, it is a constant challenge to provide a curriculum that is based on the right career level and also deep enough. Most courses you will find about Global Mobility in your home country will assume the home approach and all the special legal areas will mainly be presented based on “home” legislation and in the home language. If you are managing a global population and wish to implement a host approach you will need to go through a lot of learning by doing and you probably have to invent the wheel.

The Expatise Academy in Holland

I recommend the Expatise Academy program in Global Mobility because I am a lecturer at the Academy and have seen how they ensure the high-quality standards in teaching. The program has a modular approach and follows your career development as a Global Mobility Professional. You should consider learning the basics at least for the home country of labor and employment law, immigration, personal and corporate tax and you need to understand your Global Mobility policy and compensation approaches.

Global Competency

A factor that is often underestimated in Global Mobility is the critical importance of developing global competency. As long as we do not see cultural differences, we do not know why men and women from other cultures behave and think differently than we do. We just assume that they are “strange”. Also, we might think we treat the other person with respect but the concept of respect is defined differently in other culture. Even if we consider ourselves open-minded, we might not have developed the skills that we need in order to be more effective in other cultures.

Our brains today still work in a similar way to that of the cavewoman. We often decide only about fight or flight. We hardly ever step back in stressful situations and think “Why is that person behaving like this?”.  We rarely sit down, take a deep breath, smile and then write a polite email to say that our judgment of the situation might have been guided by our own values and assumptions. No. Normally we jump to conclusions first and put other people’s behavior in a box (Like / Not Like). Facebook does not help.

We rely on our mental images and can become prejudiced because this is the way our gut decides if we are safe or in danger. Our mental images are influenced by our inner landscapes but also largely by the pictures we see on the news channels every day.  When some Westerners hear “Pakistan” they think “terrorism”, “Islamists”, “oppression of women” and “Osama bin Laden” instead of  “IT professionals”, “tourism” or even “Benazir Bhutto”.

A holistic Global Competency model

For the development of global competency, I have developed a simplified model with five elements: knowledge,  attitude, skills, experience and body learning. I first explained this model in an article in the German-speaking HR magazine Persorama (Weinberger, 2013). I work with this model in executive coaching and it also helps junior professionals start developing their effectiveness in a global context.

What is Global Competency?

Global Competency is the ability to work effectively in a global, complex environment with a high level of stress while achieving goals sustainably and in accordance with your own resources. It is a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills, reflected experiences and body learning.

Let’s look at the different elements of Global Competency.

Knowledge

You can gain knowledge of a country’s history,  politics, economy, and religion.  It is helpful not to focus only on factual information but to prioritize all the topics you enjoy reading about. As mentioned previously, start with the home country and move on to the knowledge areas of other legislation. Areas of knowledge you need to study are the tax, social security, immigration, local employment law, business terms, compensation and benefits, country-specific history and processes.

Attitude

It is very important that you develop openness for ambiguity, the potential to accept new experiences and the questioning of your own cultural minting. Through making yourself aware of and verifying your own cultural beliefs, you develop a more open attitude. Once you understand and are aware of your own cultural attitude and behaviors you are able to change your behavior to be more effective. You want to develop a global mindset and become more open towards ambiguity and not knowing. You want to practice curiosity and learn to be humble and serving.

Skills

Through developing your foreign language skills, active listening and empathy you can gain better access to people of other cultures. In today’s technology-driven times I believe it is also important for a globally active professional to have media competency. It’s important to be effective in telephone and video-conferences, but also to be able to build connections via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If you are working in Global Mobility you will have to develop your analytical problem- solving skills, you need a feel for numbers. You want to develop your language skills (especially English). You might need consulting and communication skills. You need to improve the way you build relationships.  You need to work with information and communication technology effectively and have a grasp of Social Media.

Reflected Experience

When dealing with other cultures it is helpful to analyze critical situations and incidents. One option is the „search for the proof of the opposite. You could, for example, have an assumption about a person’s cultural behavior and then assume that it’s the opposite of your assumption and find proof for this theory. You can start to write an intercultural diary and reflect your assignee cases by applying systemic thinking. You need the ability to record cases, decisions, and exceptions. You need to able to note the details while not losing focus of the overall process. You could debrief challenging assignees with an external coach.

Body Learning

By learning dances or practicing martial arts, and relaxation methods you learn to focus and you will feel better in your body. Thereby you will be able to handle the stress and global complexity a lot better. A good physical constitution is helpful to remain globally competent and effective.  Other creative tasks such as painting, playing the piano and photography are also helpful. You want to develop a good routine for processing information. You can increase your presence in meetings and with your clients by following our advice on learning a dance, martial art or relaxation method.

Test your Intercultural Sensitivity

A lot of scientific work has been written on intercultural sensitivity. My favorite model is Milton Bennett’s developmental model of intercultural sensitivity (DMIS). This model is the basis for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) by  Hammer and Bennett (2001).
Would you like to test your intercultural sensitivity with the IDI and see if you estimated your competence correctly?
If you would like to go through the test you can email me. The cost is CHF 97 including a debriefing.

by Brooke Faulkner via @faulknercreek

The worldwide web has also led to a more worldwide economy, and despite recent political manoeuvrings and issues with trade, that situation is not likely to change anytime soon. Many companies have moved toward not only a remote workforce, but one that is international as well.

Think of the social media sharing app Buffer. The company has a 100 percent remote workforce with no physical home office. Employees and often their spouses are treated to a once-a-year retreat paid for with the money the company saves on infrastructure. Employees work around the world, in many different places and environments.

How do they manage this workforce? How do other countries do it? What does it take to manage employees across the globe and from various cultures who speak different languages? It is challenging, but for many companies, it is not only worth it, but it is a necessary evil.

Understanding Culture

One of the first challenges you will face is maintaining company culture when a different societal culture defines the country where your employees are located. When any company is looking to expand globally, it is important to maintain vision, mission, and values. This involves some important steps in cross-cultural management.

Send Experienced Teams to Establish New Teams

No matter how great a leader you might be, you cannot instil company culture by yourself. Typically, as a company grows, the company culture becomes a blend of employees and management working together. Assemble a small, experienced team to help set up and manage remote teams even if they do so virtually. This will assure that mission and vision are communicated properly.

Understand and Honor Local Customs and Traditions

You cannot establish a workforce presence in another country without understanding and respecting local customs and traditions including holidays, religious restrictions, and other cultural differences. To work with these things, you will have to think outside the box and have alternative holidays and other considerations.

This translates to many different areas, including the location and layout of offices, necessary break times, and even dress codes if you have one. Your team must work to align your company culture with that of your host country.

Work at Cultural Alignment

This cultural alignment will take work. There are several important aspects of aligning your company culture globally, and it will not happen organically. Here are some points to consider.

  • Direction and purpose: What is your “why” and how does it translate to a new culture?
  • Supervisor support: What does management support mean, and how can it be achieved remotely or globally?
  • Learning and growth: Are there opportunities for growth even globally? Are training materials available in the native language and are they relevant?
  • Relationships and team performance: Relationships must be developed outside of employees’ and management’s comfort zones, but the end result is rewarding. Pick team members who are willing to do this.
  • Make feedback into influence: Your global team members are more than just employees and will have ideas of how to make your company work in their culture. Welcome their influence and implement their feedback.
  • Recognition and rewards: These may look different in another culture, but they are still necessary and relevant.

By making the alignment of your company culture a priority and following these steps, you will increase the value of your global presence.

Managing Remote Teams

Like Buffer, many global teams are remote, and managing remote workers has additional challenges. While there are many advantages to a remote team such as global talent, saving the cost of relocation, and the addition of diversity, there are also some drawbacks. One of those is that they can be more difficult to manage.

LIke cultural alignment, there are some general guidelines for managing virtual teams that apply nearly universally.

  • Build trust: Your team must trust that you have their best interests at heart, just as you do those of your customers. You have to follow through with what you say you will do, and give them the support they need to accomplish the tasks you set for them.
  • Have clear goals, standards, and rules: A part of this building of trust is to have clear and consistent expectations and goals. Work must be done to a standard regardless of where in the world your employee is.
  • Communicate clearly and constantly: Communication is the key, and while this can be challenging in different time zones and across the world, it still can be done. As a leader, it is your responsibility to align your schedule with theirs, not for them to inconvenience themselves to accommodate you.
  • Build a team rhythm: Consistency is also key. Develop a rhythm and a schedule your team can adhere to, and that works for all of you. Develop and stick to consistent workflows to keep everyone at their most productive.

To manage a remote team, you will need a more flexible company culture, especially worldwide. Be conscious of this, and don’t micromanage no matter where in the world your employees are. Your management style must be consistent and predictable, too. Managing people is much different than managing spreadsheets and numbers, no matter how far removed from your office they are.

Remember, you are the leader, and the satisfaction of the employees and, in the end, the customer is your responsibility.

Providing Your Team with Tools

One of the key elements to working globally is to have tools that translate to everyone and are available in a variety of languages and formats for different countries. There are several tools that do this in different categories.

There are other ways to support your team as well. Tablets or laptops are the most common platforms, but you may want to provide remote teams with phones or pay their cell phone service costs for them. Both physical tools and software are important and should be a consideration. Managing their devices makes it easier to manage the team overall.

Traveling Both Ways

Face it, if you expand globally, you will be doing more travel, and you may want to bring in your remote employees from time to time, or like Buffer, have some kind of annual gathering.

While video meetings and chat are good, there is something to be said for meeting face to face. There are many ways to manage your international business travel, from rewards cards to mileage programs, and rewards programs can save you substantial money, especially when traveling abroad. Don’t be afraid to bring employees to you too, for annual reviews or other special events. Make this a positive experience for them, and use the time to connect and build a deeper relationship.

Global management and handling an international workforce comes with a number of challenges, but in the end, the diversity, the relationships you develop, and the broader presence of your company will be worth all of the work.

 

HireMe! is our program to help internationally mobile professionals find a job in Switzerland.

A Happy New Year 2019 to you. May it bring you health, happiness and lots of success in your projects.

The holidays are over and you are probably already getting back-to-work blues. That’s alright, most of us  experience a form of adjustment and maybe even feel a little overwhelmed at the change of pace

I thought I could ease myself in slowly by starting on Thursday already and then it hit me like a snowball. Friday, I was working away in a frenzy and did about four loads of washing at the same time. (I know, multitasking is not good for the brain, but every machine run is a bit like a smoking break – not that I smoke…but you get the gist.)

Since a long time I haven’t written a to-do-list other than the ones, I write to structure my housework. However, on Friday I wrote one and still many items are open because the client work, lecture and workshop preparations were more urgent than many of those small tasks.

I thought I should share with you my plan for starting this week in a mindful way even though it is packed.

Here’s a quick rundown of what I will do to get myself prepared. Hopefully, I have the energy to return to that to-do list every day of the next week.

    • Put away the holiday decorations – I know that’s the hardest part but it’s time to say goodbye to the holidays and throw out that Christmas tree (if you had one). I keep all cards but they go into a box and the decorations box is stowed away in the attic.
    • Start a new diary – Literally, it’s a new year and worth to get a new diary.
    • Fix your sleep cycle – I feel that far too many of us enjoy sleeping late during the holidays as group conversations go late into the night or you just can’t stop binging that new show on Netflix. From Monday I’m setting the alarm at 5.15 AM every day. Then I’m automatically tired at 10 PM and can go to sleep easily. On Saturday and Sunday, I will try to get up around 7 AM. Then it is easier to readjust. Ensure you do the same for the kids and encourage your spouse/partner as well.
    • Reconnect with yourself – The holidays can be a fun yet hectic time of the year and when the endorphins wear off, you may find yourself drained. Schedule some ‘me’ time and recharge yourself! Try to establish your weekly practices* again. If you have no time at all to yourself write down at least 10 wishes for the year.
  • Cut down on snacks and reduce your alcohol intake back to normal – However delicious those holiday leftovers may seem, perhaps it’s best if we get back to giving our bodies healthier nutrition and rejuvenate our bodies! And while we now have all these New Year receptions coming up it is also better to bring down your alcohol level to normality. Maybe have herbal tea one or two nights a week.

With an ever-increasing number of professionals moving to another country for work, the holidays are the ideal time for a visit home and catching up with family and friends. It’s a magical time, with expats getting to re-experience their favorite memories – perhaps visiting that ice-cream store with a childhood best friend, reconnecting with an extended family member. These visits are why a lot of expats end up forming stronger bonds with their loved ones back home. Sometimes, we also want to be back in our own homes, our own lives and with our current friends. You might experience a bit of emotional turmoil, jet lag and other typical signs of travel.

That said, I know that for a lot of people, these vacations are a bittersweet affair. Returning might reinforce the feeling of loss at what was sacrificed for the sake of your career: the familiarity and comfort of ‘home’, relationships and even support networks. For those returning after a very long time, they might even find themselves feeling alienated in their own home and country, as they’ve gotten acclimatized to their new environment. Maybe you are happy to be back in the host country and suddenly realize that you are happy but that your spouse still hasn’t found that job he was looking for. And that you would feel better if your spouse had an identity again.

If your spouse has been looking for a job in Switzerland for more than six months and is desperate please send him my way.

We will offer the next #HireMeGroup starting 26 January 2019 and I have two spots left. Meetings will be held on three Saturday mornings from 9 AM to 12 PM in a new location in 8032 Zurich.

We will arrange one meeting per month on 26 January 2019, 16 February 2019, 9 March 2019. If you want to sign up or have a friend who needs to join us please reply to this email and let me know how I can reach you by phone.

Have a great start in 2019!

Angie

 


Do you want to start a career in Global Mobility? Do you want to become an even sharper and wittier consultant on top of GM Trends and well networked? 

Globalization, Digitalization, Urbanization, Outsourcing, and generational preferences are disrupting Global Mobility.

Automation, business transformation, and the gig economy challenge our approaches to global talent management, leadership development, and life planning.

What we assumed about pensions, family structures, migration, health and security in mobility policies is deconstructed by our realities.

These fundamental changes do not only have an impact on our policies and expats. They also shape our role, our profession and how we define our work.

I used to believe that someday Global Mobility Leaders will have a seat at the table. The time is now.

The Global Mobility Profession is ready for take-off. Are you ready to join our Cabin Crew?

Are you a Global Mobility Specialist or Manager? Do you feel it’s time for you to move on?

Do you feel you have all the capabilities, knowledge, skills to be successful in Mobility and international Human Resources for the next 20 years?

Do you have the necessary professional network and reputation to thrive?

  • Improve your knowledge and skills in Global Mobility and international HR.
  • Become a better listener and consultant.
  • Raise your professional standing.
  • Develop and maintain a professional network and support group in our community.
  • Become more effective in (intercultural) communication.

Are you confronted with these challenges?

  • Moving from being a transactional busy bee to being a recognized consultant,
  • Suffering from imposter syndrome, fear of failure, perfectionism and other symptoms of fear (especially common among female professionals),
  • Building effective professional relationships,
  • Balancing work and personal life and staying healthy in a 24/7 environment,
  • Negotiating across cultures and for promotions, talent programs, and other incentives,
  • Knowing when to move on and finding a new role in this niche market,
  • Deciding on a role in another country,
  • Losing a job due to outsourcing and general industry trends.
@angieweinberger

Email angela@globalpeopletransitions.com to discuss your career development in Global Mobility.

 

“It is Rocket Science!”

Inge Nitsche (referring to Global Mobility)