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International Assignments - Identifying Expatriation Needs

According to the research I have done, it is fair to say that the success rate of expatriate assignments is dependant on the expatriate assignee and the spouse and/or family being happy. When people are happy they are effective and this is no different in the case of expatriates. Yet, a surprising outcome of the research more than suggests that the success rate of company expatriate assignments leaves much room for improvement. To avoid failure and unhappiness while working and living abroad it is important to examine each stage of the international assignment for both the assigned expatriate employee and the spouse. One must be able to identify the needs in order to help reduce stress. Research and contact with expatriate employees leads me to believe that the requirements that are needed to ensure success do differ according to the stage of expatriation.

Being aware of these needs allows you to be able to prepare for a happy and successful international appointment. In the pre-departure stage you, your partner and family will need to be able to: * Be Informed in advance * Express concerns you may have * Establish contact with the host country * Understand general expectations in the host country In the initial stage in the host country your family will need to be able to: * Overcome stereotypes * Pinpoint daily living reference tips * Learn how to communicate * Understand behaviour patterns * Relax, start re-living your lives * Familiarize yourselves with the culture In the established stage in the host country your needs will include being able to: * Belong * Make connections with the local culture * Work on personal growth In the final stage in the host country you will want to: * Prepare to go home * Evaluate your experiences * Share your success of the assignment By using this information, you can look into various possibilities to help equip yourself for culture shock. Develop strategies for helping your partner find a new job in the host country by helping him/her identify their strengths, talents and resources available to them. Attempt to organize living arrangements before your plane lands, look into schools in the area for your children, find out banking rules, check your financial status and live within your means. I cannot stress it enough, prepare, prepare, prepare before departure! Take advantage of any training you may need, develop tools for success and surround yourself with a network of supportive groups and friends.

By involving yourself whole-heartedly in your process of cross-cultural adjustment, you will increase the possibilities of making it a happy, productive and successful experience for you and your family on both a career and personal level. Quote of the week “Success depends on previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” Confucius.


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