Plan to Dress!
Logistics for Expatriates
THE KEY TO
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
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
This article was submitted by Sandra T. Snyder, B.S.,
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