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Relocation Success
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Pleasant Surprise
Logistics for Expatriates

THE KEY TO RELOCATION SUCCESS

Every year hundreds of companies, embassies and individuals relocate employees from their home country to foreign assignments.  While this sounds romantic, exciting and even lucrative, it is also stressful and expensive.  Providing assistance to the relocating individual or family is key to minimizing associated problems.  In a report on the Key to Expatriate Success, Kenneth M. Burgess (Managing Director – CPH Technologia em Saude, Sao Paulo, Brasil) states that “training and preparation are needed to make the transition to a new culture successful.  This includes extensive training for the family about the local culture, customs, expected social behaviors, day-to-day living, and assistance and family support once the family is on assignment.” 

 Relocation success must take into consideration a thorough understanding of ones own cultural identification – assumptions, beliefs, habits and attitudes.  These are then contrasted to the host country profile.  While it is not necessary to accept the host country ID, it is necessary to understand it and then ADJUST.  Interacting in the new environment is more than just a matter of having information, it requires reserving judgment and adjusting perceptions, your style and your communication patterns in order to build trust. 

Further in the article cited above Burgess gives a rule of thumb regarding costs of $100,000 in salary, and an additional $300,000-$400,000 in housing, living allowances, educational \expenses and taxes for each assignment.  Therefore it is absolutely imperative that these employees succeed.  That is where the professional relocation firm comes into the picture.

The professional relocation firm and its consultants have the knowledge and expertise to take the stress out of the relocation process for the client relocating to a foreign country.  From the first contact with the client, relocation consultants have the ability to shape the entire experience for the employee and his family.  This team of experts is comprised of specialists who not only have outstanding educational backgrounds and training, but first hand experience in the relocation process. They know from personal experience the benefit of making positive first contacts.  When someone relocates to another country, if they meet positive, friendly, helpful people they respond positively to their surroundings.  On the other hand, if every encounter is negative, trying and stressful, they develop a negative attitude towards the people, place and experience.  The relocation firm is there to make sure that doesn’t happen to the employee or his/her family.  Years of experience and knowledge about the local real estate market, school situation, methods of banking and how to do business in the specific country helps reduce the stress.  Relocation specialists are sensitive to the clients needs, whether relocating a beloved pet, finding a home with the perfect TV room or providing information on golfing or fishing.  Relocation is not just finding a house and moving the furniture.  It requires assistance in the total adjustment, including a plan for making friends, settling in to the school culture as well as a place to live for the family.

Relocation consultants meet and work with people from all over the world - people who have had different experiences and who have different cultures.  They are expected to be equally effective with clients relocating for the first time or with clients from Japan who may have had up to one-year of training and orientation for their roles as expatriate managers on overseas assignments.  The Japanese are recognized as having one of the highest expatriate success rates in the world.  At the other extreme some managers hit the new country running.  They arrive one evening, start the new job the next day, look for housing when they can get a few minutes, hope to accomplish everything on weekends and have their family follow them when they are sort of settled. 

As in any business, relocation specialists have clients that are delightful and easy to work with and others that are challenging.  These clients also understand that  in country”, the expatriate is the “big fish in the small pond”.  They live an interesting and exciting life in the country of assignment; however, when they return to the home country, they also understand that the inverse is true.  

Relocation management is not for everyone anymore than relocation assignments are for everyone.  It requires much time and personal attention with extensive management and organization skills.  The consultants also have extensive training and education in relocation related area as well as professional affiliations. The focus is on making relocation easy and successful for the client.  Consultants do this by bringing into play those skills that permit the client to avoid pitfalls and problems associated with relocating to a new culture and environment.  Being able to interact successfully at all levels within an organization, whether an Embassy, a mining company, a forestry company, telecommunications executive or a mid-level manager is the key.  Confidentiality is the other requirement!  This is equally true whether working with an individual employee or the company itself. Clients of relocation firms are making major moves and do not want to go public with personnel changes until all the elements are in place. 

Relocation firms are in place the world over and participate in a world-wide net to facilitate referrals and assist their clients.

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This article was submitted by Sandra T. Snyder, B.S., Relocation Specialist

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