Coaching is something we hear a lot about and which can have tremendous value for individuals, whether it’s used for career development or as support in a stressful or new situation, such as helping to acclimate someone to a new environment.
Being an international assignee is a 24/7 job. Expats don’t know what to expect and may seem fine – until they’re not. All expats experience cultural transition stress, which can manifest in sleeplessness, reduced self-esteem, and depression. They are starting over in many areas and become preoccupied with basic daily needs that required minimal thought before.
Coaching can facilitate positive change by reinforcing new skills and behaviors until they become intuitive. In the global mobility industry, we know how difficult it is to assimilate into a new culture and recognize the many disruptions caused by a cross-border move.
It takes a tremendous amount of mental and physical energy to establishing a “new normal.” Starting with the basics, a coach can reveal potentially hidden challenges clients may be facing in working toward larger goal.
More ambiguous is the loss of a routine and an overall sense of stability. It’s typical for expats to feel discouraged and ineffective in areas of their lives where they once felt confident and productive. Even expats who started out enthusiastic about the relocation soon discover that it’s not like a movie or a book about the country. The loss of old acquaintances and support networks can weigh heavily during these times.
A coach can help an expat find stability and deal with the unfamiliar. Cultural coaching can support them through the stages of transition. Expats themselves can set new goals, and work toward them.
Learning about the host culture values is extremely important, as is identifying individual biases toward the new culture, which can be subtle and unrecognizable. Working with a coach to understand these behaviors is essential for personal and profession integration in the host culture.
The phrase “think globally, act locally” applies to coaching expats. They must be mindful of the unique new circumstances of the host location to help them flourish during the transition. A good coach educates their clients about the expectations and accountability required for success.
Fortunately, there are many good coaching companies available for expats and their families. In addition to a coach, cultural training and destination specific information will help mitigate a loss of self, build confidence, and result in a successful time abroad.
Written by Cathy Heyne, GMS-T, Managing Director