According to Brookfield (2016) 95% of companies do not measure their Global Mobility Return on Investment.

“Given the inordinate amount of cost pressure on mobility today, it is somewhat surprising that more companies do not seem to have basic cost management practices in place. Only 62% of respondents indicated that they track costs during an assignment, and even fewer noted that a cost-benefit analysis is required at the outset of an assignment. With barely two-thirds of companies actually tracking the basic and most transparent part of their investment in assignments – their cost, it is not surprising that 95% of companies do not measure international assignment ROI.” 

This research is from 2016 and I bet if we had an updated version we would come to the same conclusion. When I speak to Global Mobility Professionals about ROI they usually roll their eyes and tell me all the reasons why it is impossible to measure Global Mobility Return on Investment in their company.

Over the last two months, I also read “Managing Expatriates – A Return on Investment Approach” by McNulty and Inkson (2013). It’s a great book, slightly academic but has really good ideas about what we can improve in Global Mobility. The authors suggest a new model and approach for expatriate ROI. I like their approach because they build on five core principles. (If you are short on time focus on Chapter 9 of the book).

As the authors state previous data based on repatriation turnover, assignment failure, assignment success and job performance were not consistently measured. To date, I often have doubts about statistics, traffic light systems, and metrics. Mainly, because I know that the data behind is often incomplete and stats are too often used to manipulate decision makers in HR and the line. This is because these decision makers are usually men in their 50ies, analytical thinkers, who need numbers to justify their gut feeling. If you have worked in an industry for 20 years, you know why you lose your best talent. You know that you have disappointed your female potential. You know that you are not doing enough for minorities. BUT without stats, you don’t see the need to change. Without suffering (as in losing clients, money, baseline) you don’t question the status quo.

Measuring international assignment ROI is easier said than done. The issue is not only about data quality and integrity. The main issue in my view is the lack of collaboration between line managers and Global Mobility Professionals. We can continue to discuss return on investment in Global Mobility for the next 10 years or we can adopt McNulty and Inksons five core principles.

We can continue looking for the magic potion that will make us look like the next CFO. (I’m thinking of Asterix as I write this. There should be an “Asterix with the GM Professionals…”).

Here are four reasons why I think we are not going to achieve a good measurement of return on investment in Global Mobility.

1) No clear assignment targets

If you want to measure ROI you need to have clear and measurable international assignment targets. Usually, assignment targets are blurry, hard to measure or non-existent. In order to determine ROI, a mix of operational indicators would need to be measured regularly. Examples include performance on assignment, repatriate retention, business volume driven by expats. We could measure savings and improvements through knowledge transfer, risk reduction, staffing stability and culture transfer from headquarter to other areas of the organization.

Most of these targets need to be transformed into measurable Key Performance Indicators. They would need to integrate into management information systems. And, we would need to have a clear understanding of what is actually expected of our expats around the world. Often this is not the case and evolves only during the assignment.

2) Flaws in the business case bring down Global Mobility Return on Investment

There should be a business case behind every international assignment and every kind of Global Mobility. Surprise…This is not self-understood.

Many companies have a hard time even differentiating between a developmental assignment and a strategic assignment. Often international assignments are not really thought through. Assignees are sent to “fill a gap”, “to accelerate a process”, “to drive more sales” and “to make them there do everything the way we do it here.” Ever heard this before?

We often do not fully understand the situation on the ground, in the host country until we have been there and done the work ourselves. Many home managers are completely oblivious to intercultural differences, the importance of local business relationships and the importance of the host language. Too often expats need a lot longer than expected to work through the intercultural transition phase, deal with family issues during the move and settling in phase and often expats overestimate their capabilities.

3) Decision makers and Global Mobility Professionals do not collaborate yet

Most managers think of “HR” as troublemakers, cost producers, and list tickers. Instead of asking Global Mobility Professionals for support in defining assignment targets and setting up a business case, they see them as the “admin, who will make it happen when I have decided”. This is a historical drama and Global Mobility Professionals have not managed to show their value to the line managers when they have taken on the role of the “Policy Police” in the past.

Managers do not involve Global Mobility Professionals because they do not think that they will get any good input from them. This process requires relationship and trust building from both ends. Line managers need to learn to trust in the Global Mobility Professional and ask them for support in defining the international assignment business case. If there is no business case or if it is not justifiable, it might be possible to consider a permanent transfer or alternative options.

4) We do not add to Global Mobility Return on Investment by focussing on bean counting

We need to stop bean counting in Global Mobility and start adding real value by supporting the talents and leaders of the company get their job done as quickly and effectively as possible. We should learn to trust expats in their decisions about budget and costs, give them a good shelve of benefits to chose from and have excellent and agile service providers available to us 24/7. We should not turn pennies around while in other parts of the company money is wasted. We should focus on what really matters and that is that we bring back the human touch into Global Mobility.

 

Angie Weinberger

PS: Sign up here to receive updates on the publication date of “The Global Mobility Workbook (Third Edition)”. Launch is scheduled for 7 October 2019 on Amazon globally.

 

 

 

Culture beats structure!


With “The Global Mobility Workbook – 3rd Edition” launch just around the corner, I thought I would talk a little about my journey of completing this book.

Every book project is a huge team effort. I realized in June that it would be easy to just quit the project so I forced myself a little. I used what I call the “people approach to managing projects”. I’ve explained this approach in a module of our RockMe! program.

The People Approach

“The “People Approach to Managing Projects” has several steps. First, you visualize the end result and paint a detailed picture of it. Second, you add post-it notes of people you see connected to this end vision. Third, you consider which role they will play in your end vision. Fourth, you reach out to them and let them know that you need their help. Then, you engage them for a job in your project and finally, you find two commitment buddies who will check in with you on your success and report to them on a weekly basis. It is also vital to tell the world about your project.”

I figured it would help to hire a team of professionals and also tell as many people as possible about my upcoming book launch. We decided that it was important to launch the book in the fall before the Frankfurt Book Fair and the start of the winter semester. And then I started to tell the world about the upcoming launch by writing individual emails to at least 100 people in my industry, acquaintances, and friends.

Set a Hard Deadline

Based on the availability of good friends and colleagues we then decided on a date for the book launch party. With that date in the diary, it was really easy to move forward.

I was being asked how I approached revisions with a fresh perspective after having spent so long on the book itself. The thing is, it is important to approach revisions with a fresh mind after having spent so long working with the book’s earlier editions – since 2014 and with some cases, I work since 2009.

The Production Phase

Once the manuscript was ready in April we used it in practice already for workshops. A fresh perspective comes from readers, the feedback of learners and the experience of working with the cases and the book. Also, each team member brings in a new perspective. One team member is responsible for English language edits, another one helps with captivating titles while one member handles sales on social media platforms. I want to thank all my team members for working so diligently, especially over the last eight weeks. They helped turn the project into a work of art. I can be a pain sometimes and they really handled me well.
I also think it is important to work in a structured manner and trust that every team member will do their best in the process. So once the edits were done, I did not look at content anymore, only verified that logic and structure were matching. I also have to admit that the last revision involved some improvisation. I was sitting at Newark airport and because everything there is payable by credit card, I could not really find a place to sit and eat. I’ve stopped keeping a credit card to stop myself from overspending. One of the few habits that help me as a solopreneur.

I took out a small notebook and my iPhone and started to review the final draft of the manuscript. I managed to type down the result of my feedback into a Google Doc, share it with my graphic designer just before I boarded the plane. It was such a great collaboration that she was able to work on changes I requested while I was in the air.

Pre-Launch Phase

With the book going live on Amazon last week we have pre-launched it to the Global Mobility tribe.

On 3 October 2019, we will celebrate the book launch and that is the start of the “launch phase”. In the current phase, it’s important to sell as many books as possible. “Virginia Robot” at Amazon will then think that you are doing something right and promote your book further.

I have been going through different emotions and my imposter syndrome was trying to sneak in once in a while. So, there were moments where I wanted to stop the project.

The good thing is that this is my third book launch and by now I know how these inner corruptors feel. I understand that a lot of us artists are afraid to show their work to the world. It’s the first time I call myself “artist” and the first time I changed my LinkedIn profile to say “author”. For me, this was a process of at least seven years from blogging onwards to publishing a book.

The Devil is in the Detail

I care about details such as words, spelling, grammar, structure, typos, logistics and my guests!!!

The last two weeks have been exciting and intense because I’m not only the author of “The Global Mobility Workbook”, I am also involved in the major decisions related to production, digital marketing and launch aspects.

And while I have enjoyed every part of it, I also have clients, family and friends to take care of. Frankly speaking, I wake up at 6 AM on the weekend thinking about the book launch.

The Four C’s

You might understand that for “The Global MobilityWorkbook” I have summarized four key risk areas into a “Four C-Model”. The Four C’s are Cost, Compliance, Care and Career. Students really need such simplicity to remember models.

The launch party also follows a Four C model: Cremant, cheese, chips, and colleagues will be there. We are expecting the Global Mobility Community of Zurich as well as international guests from Dusseldorf, Dubai and Dublin.

Workshop and Special Program

We will also offer a free workshop on Friday, 4 October 2019 and enjoy a movie at the Zurich Film Festival. A tourist program is also planned for our international guests.

How can you Support us

Please help us promote the book and use the hashtag #TheGlobalMobilityWorkbook whenever you mention it.

If you tag me, I can appreciate and share your posts on Instagram angie_weinberger and Twitter @angieweinberger.

At the book launch, we will be sharing updates while the event is happening and also share a post-event video covering the highlights of the event.

Are you  an upcoming photographer and videographer in Zurich, willing to cover our event in order to get exposure?  We will promote you via our social media and on the event. Do let us know if willing to volunteer.

If you have any questions about the book or the event, please reply to this email.

Looking forward to welcoming those who RSVPed at the launch.

Have a productive week ahead.

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger and Team

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.

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.


Last week, we talked about why building professional relationships is harder for expats. Now let’s discuss another side of the coin – how to create an inclusive environment for expats. If you were Dr. Rainer Schulz you’d probably ask yourself what you could do to build a safe and collaborative environment with people from different cultures.

1- Deal with your Gollum

If you are an expat leader and want to create an environment where people trust each other, you will need to show vulnerability and role-model trustworthy behaviour. If you wish to be trusted you might have to show your weaknesses, your Achilles’ heel and let your team know how they can best support you. You might have to explain what triggers your emotional side, what makes you feel weak. You might even have to accept that you are not a superheroine or hero and that nobody apart from your “Gollum” is expecting this of you. My advice is that you seek coaching to work with the inner critic and put him in his cot.

2) Work on your Implicit Assumptions and Biases

It could also be that you have formed assumptions about the host culture or about certain behaviors that are not appropriate and could end up impacting your relationship with your international team.
One way to address this is to bring up your implicit assumptions for discussion in a learning environment. This gives you the opportunity to not only correct your biases but also learn more about the host culture and its nuances. In my view, it always helps to attend intercultural competence development training.

3) Reduce your Language Complex

Moving to another culture often comes with a form of language limitation. It could be that the host language is entirely different than your mother tongue or that you are speaking the same language with a different accent and different cultural references. For example, American English often uses references from Baseball in every slang, which doesn’t translate into our context in Europe.

Sometimes even a small difference in how you pronounce a word can create an entirely different meaning for a sensitive listener. Humor, sarcasm or irony often do not translate so well and we haven’t even discussed the pace of speech, tone of voice, the use of silence and interruptions. I try to listen more in conversations and take notes and often I have a hard time then to say something right away without the proper reflection time.

The older I get, the more introverted I feel and I find it quite hard to follow a meeting. I prefer to express myself through the written word. So, often I walk out of a meeting a bit lost. Maybe you know this feeling. I wish sometimes I could respond faster but the trouble is that knowing everything I know I need proper reflection time to come up with a good solution. My brain goes in overdrive.

You could make an effort to learn the host language better, use common phrases, get the dialect right and pronounce names correctly. This requires that you learn the names of everyone; from your clients, team members and colleagues, to the receptionist and mail person.

4) Accept diverse Working Styles

Effective global teams allow for a variety of working styles and priority setting. However, many managers prefer to work with staff members who function like them. Unconsciously they find it easier. You can move out of your comfort zone and discuss differences in style with your team members directly. You could also address your preferences and request that team members accommodate your style to a certain degree or you could agree the checkpoints that your need in order to feel safe.

Also, if you prefer to be included in certain communications you should address that. When you are in your first 90 days with your new team in the host company, I recommend a symbolic kick-off meeting where you discuss roles and responsibilities, collaboration rules and principles and develop the short-term action plan together (assuming you move to a participatory, egalitarian culture such as Switzerland or Holland).

5) Co-create Culture-Appropriate Roadmaps

Nowadays, discussing vision and mission is often perceived as an alibi exercise by management as the pace of change hardly allows for a long-term vision or strategy 80ies-style. Hence, I recommend you focus more on the next six months and weekly actions to get closer to your vision. You should still create a vision board for yourself and maybe paint a picture or write about your vision. You could also write a mission statement for your area of responsibility. For your team though it is probably more important that you are fully present, your best self and have their back when they need you.

If you wish to work on all of the above you could join our RockMeRetreat starting 21 November and ending 28 November 2019 in Kressbronn, Southern Germany. I’m available on 28 June 2019 and 19 July 2019 for personal meetings to discuss your participation. Email me now for your reserving slot: angela@globalpeopletransitions.com

Or sign up here for a personal conversation with me:

Have a great week ahead!

Angie

PS: During the RockMeRetreat I will support clients to overcome these challenges by applying the 4 P’s of building professional relationships (Purpose, Preparation, Presence and Promises).