Have you ever been on holiday or a short business trip to a new country and thought ‘I could live here’? The two weeks you spend are joyous, the food is interestingly different, and the culture fascinating… However, relocating to a new country is a radically different experience to a short-term visit. You’ll still be there once the ‘honeymoon’ is over.
Having worked with thousands of individuals and families on both our pre and post-deployment programs, we’d like to share a few tips to make the adjustment as smooth as possible:
Prepare. Seek information and advice about the local people, history and culture. Access local news websites and become familiar with local issues and popular culture. Absorb as much information as possible from a wide variety of sources about your new home.
Pace yourself. To successfully relocate and live for more than six months in a new location you need to play a ‘long game’. It will take time to find your place in your new community, establish relationships and know where you fit in.
Create a sense of ‘home’. Remember, home is a sense of belonging and unique to you. What rituals can you maintain? Is it the smell of coffee in the morning? Is it the sound of your favourite music? Do you like to cook? Do you always run on the weekends? If you are relocating with others, remind them of the things they love about home. Try to keep some continuity in your life. Small things can be nurtured anywhere in the world.
Look for people who can support you. It might not be the same people you lean on at home. Their lack of understanding of what you are going through may sometimes make things harder. Expat communities are a great support – they have already ‘been there, done that’.
Be gentle on yourself and those around you. You can’t force adaptation. Not everyone will adapt at the same time. Everyone is under pressure and copes in the best way they know how. To preserve relationships, remember, this is a challenging time, be patient.
Take time out. A mini break from your new location to a third destination can help. While it may be tempting to want to ‘work through’ and get everything under control at the office, a brief break can help gain perspective. When you return, somehow your new place feels more like home than when you left.
You got this…Hang in there. It’s normal to be overwhelmed at points. Don’t underestimate the amount you have already learned, and the skills and life experience you bring. Think back, what worked for you in a previous period of change in your life? Many of those strategies will also work now.
Beasley Intercultural has supported thousands of employees and their families to make a successful transition when relocating internationally. Our programs facilitate better adjustment and productivity on arrival, minimise foreseeable risk, and ensure duty of care is addressed. Contact us now to find out about how our pre and post-deployment programs can help you or your team.
I’ll never forget the moment. I was facilitating a Global Teams program in Shanghai for Country leaders of the IT department of a multinational client. It was a well-earned coffee break and Eric, a participant from Hong Kong approached me with a question which has stayed with me ever since.
“Why is it?’ he asked gazing around the room, “that he’s from Delhi, she’s from Tokyo, he’s from KL, he’s from Bangkok…we’re all speaking English as our second language, and we all understand each other perfectly well.” He then paused and subtly turned to direct his gaze at Ben from Melbourne. “And yet, we can barely understand a word Ben is saying.”
I asked myself, “Why are Australians so hard to understand?!” Australians often don’t realise how confusing their communication style can be. Australians use the English language in a particular way, have a unique approach to hierarchy and use banter and teasing to build rapport. Colleagues and clients who aren’t Australian can find this style difficult to understand.
After years of research and working closely with Australian businesses to improve communication in their global teams, Beasley Intercultural is excited to release our Working with Australians eLearning Program. This Program is designed to demystify Australian cultural and business practices.
The Working with Australians eLearning:
- Provides practical strategies to develop rapport with Australians
- Enables participants to understand how Australians communicate at work
- Outlines how respect and hierarchy are demonstrated in business
As you observe the Australia Day Public Holiday think about your newly arrived team members or colleagues working offshore. Could they use some help understanding Australians and the unique Australian communication style?
Did you know one in five Australians speak a language other than English at home? And yet so much of our advertising and marketing is not reaching this $190 billion market. Inclusion is core business, and getting it right makes a difference to employee engagement, performance and the bottom line.
Last night I attended the Australian Multicultural Awards at the Sydney Opera House. It’s been wonderful, as an adviser to Multicultural NSW, to see the evolution of this event, and great to see the business case so clearly articulated. I think Geraldine Chin Moody from Virgin Australia summed it up so succinctly:
“Success is when we don’t talk about diversity any more and we talk about inclusion. It shouldn’t matter who you are – it’s what you have to contribute”
As Geraldine emphasised, inclusion is so important for effectively accessing, managing and leveraging diversity. Virgin took an
internal employee-driven approach to their diversity campaign. The good news is, Virgin are reflecting this principle in their advertising. What a great campaign ‘Together we fly’.
As we highlight in our successful, global, Inclusive Leadership program, inclusion takes effort, focus and a commitment from leaders. Get in touch if you’d like to enable a more inclusive culture in your organisation.
Wouldn’t you love to have the resources of Google? At Google, they decided they wanted to understand what defines the perfect team, so brought together their best statisticians, organisational psychologists, sociologists, engineers and researchers to form ‘Project Aristotle’. After three years of research, of reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked, scrutinising the behaviour and performance of 180 teams, their first discovery was that patterns were hard to find.
The research team found that some high performing teams socialised with each other, others didn’t. Some diverse teams were high performing, others weren’t. As a manager in Google’s People Analytics division said ‘‘At Google, we’re good at finding patterns… there weren’t strong patterns here.’’ After almost giving up, they finally found what makes the difference.
What differentiates high performing teams is the existence of trust.
When looking at how to best explore and understand trust, the most effective contextual framework was ‘psychological safety’, a concept Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson defines as ‘‘a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking’’ and ‘‘a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up.’’ There’s no point in having great talent within your team if people don’t contribute fully. Good decisions are made when people share their perspectives, challenge one another and develop a more well-rounded solution.
Think about your experience of diversity at work and diverse teams. To what extent do people feel safe and trust one another? Common barriers to full participation include a fear of causing offence, of not understanding another person, or of making sense when speaking a second language. Key behaviours that create psychological safety are those of engaging with each other at a human level. To get to know your team members as people, rather than only through their title or functional role can make a difference. Other key communication skills such as active listening and demonstrating empathy are also critical. Sounds simple, right? As with so many of the skills of effectiveness in global contexts, it’s not what you do, it’s how that makes the difference.
For more details of the project and it’s findings click here.