You have a group of expatriates who arrive in your country every year and remain in position for two, three or maybe even four years. They are often senior level executives from a range of functional disciplines who are expected to ‘hit the ground running’ as quickly as possible. Although all the expatriates are extremely professionally capable individuals it is likely that they will encounter a range of cultural challenges when asked to undertake their new roles in an alien cultural environment. From experience you feel that these challenges could be an impediment to the expatriates’ ability to be as effective as possible as quickly as possible and that a high-quality training coaching expatriates for success programme could be greatly beneficial for both the individual and the organisation as a whole.
Maybe your previous efforts to raise levels of cultural fluency within the expatriate community have resulted in an uneven take-up of training opportunities and therefore a new approach might be needed.
Simply put, your main objective is to ensure that expatriates are able to integrate as effectively as possible into their new roles and work seamlessly with their local colleagues.
Although this objective is easy to describe it is more challenging to achieve. To achieve this goal expatriates need to internalise three key fundamentals of cross-cultural working:
The most effective way to ensure that expatriates are able to meet these objectives would probably actually be through a short but relatively intensive series of coaching sessions shortly after their arrival in country rather than a one-off training intervention. This coaching-style approach is most effective if the expatriates start the coaching sessions about 6 weeks after their arrival to allow them to gain on-the-ground experience of the challenges they might face – and this forms the real-life bedrock of the coaching sessions. This way, any interventions reflect reality rather than looking at these issues theoretically and is therefore much more effective that any training done in their home country prior to departure.
We suggest a coaching solution to address this challenge rather than a one-off training intervention because we feel that this approach is far more likely to have the impact which your business is looking to achieve. A one-off training intervention can deliver some knowledge to expatriates and that might be of some use to them – but a coaching intervention should be able to make them:
This approach requires commitment from the expatriates and a high degree of knowledge, understanding and flexibility from the coach. The coach will need to not only understand the cultural challenges of the situation but also needs to have experience in what it means to be a senior expatriate in a foreign country.
It will be important that expatriates see the coaching programme as an essential part of their ‘expatriate journey’ and as an opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge bank. They need to be ‘sold’ the programme.
Our approach is usually a package of 6 x 1 hour coaching sessions per expatriate. Ideally this process should begin about six weeks after arrival and the sessions should take place at two-weekly intervals (ie over a three month period.)
These one-to-one sessions are run through a webinar technology which allows for the maximum flexibility in terms of diary commitments for the expatriates.
Coaching sessions content:
Keith Warburton is an internationally recognised expert on the impact of global cultural differences when working in cross-border cultural environments. He works with some of the world’s great companies as well as professional service firms, governments, and Higher Education establishments.
Prior to starting his organisation, Global Business Culture, Keith worked internationally for almost 20 years. During this time, he had P&L responsibility for local business units and acted as the bridge between the local subsidiary where he was stationed and Head Office – so he understands the dynamics of working as a senior expatriate.
Areas of expertise include: