Maybe you have heard this old cliche about money before and thought, “yeah, but it sure would make life much better”, or, “the person who wrote that must have been born wealthy”. Either way, we tend to think that throwing money at a problem will often fix it. If I am completely honest here, at the risk of nullifying my point, yes, there are times when having money or tossing money at a situation does seem to fix it. But these situations are more rare than we might realize. And maybe nowhere is this reality more misconstrued than in global mobility.
It’s not that we don’t need money to be successful in most global transitions or relocations, but it is in the misdirected belief that money will make everything okay that we make our most fatal mistake. If you have worked in global mobility human resources for any length of time, you have experienced the habitual frustrations of sending excited expat individuals and families, just to see them come apart emotionally, physically, spiritually, and professionally once in the field. You may have first thought you or your organization was some kind of anomaly, that maybe you were doing something incorrectly. So, you attended all the seminars and conferences you could on global mobility, hired the expensive consultants, and tried to choose the “right” candidates. You are to be commended for these careful efforts to improve both the lives of your expats and their overall task-performance in the field. Thanks for taking the steps traditionally available to serve these employees and their families.
But in the end, you probably found that no matter how much money you threw at the problem of global mobility, failure rates continued at a steady rate of 64%, the industry’s traditional benchmark. In your experience and wisdom you began to realize that another timeless cliche was false, “Money makes the world go round”. Actually, antiquated global mobility practices of unreliable assessments and whim-based consulting have become synonymous with a hotel revolving door. We throw money at the expat candidate, including private schools for children abroad, multiplied salary, and incredible fringe benefits in the field, just to see them return a wreck in a matter of months. Assuming we just sent the wrong person, we find the next viable candidate and repeat the same process. Round and round the revolving door goes without much to show for international assignment productivity. Money DOESN’T make the world go round when it comes to successful global mobility.
The good news is that through a couple decades of research, we have been able to narrow global mobility success factors through rigorous data collection and analysis. It turns out there is a relatively short list of factors that must be in place and thriving in order to see expat success, even among expat families. I am confident that you got into your field of work to serve people. Your heart told you that there was a way to couple your professional talents with your true desire to serve people and working in global mobility has given you this incredible opportunity. Don’t be discouraged by continued challenges. This is normal. But also don’t keep doing the same thing, relying on outdated practices while holding out hope for better results for your expats and organization. You do know they call this “insanity”?
Organizational Support has proven to be one of these 15 factors leading to expat success in global assignments. Yes, you play a major role in whether or not that employee and his or her family is going to thrive in the host culture and context. You carry quite a bit of weight on your shoulders, but you can handle it, and we can help. Don’t think this a shameless sales-pitch. In fact, even after spending 20 years in research, development, and testing, our proven methods of increasing global mobility success likelihood prove that money doesn’t make the world go round. Our heart in developing Go Culture International was to see improved lives for expats in global assignments and we hold true to that original intent today among opportunities to charge outlandish consulting fees. Instead, we want to help, so we continually enhance our programming, make our assessment and coaching program easily accessible online, and do so at a price that is attainable.
Justin – President of Go Culture International