Global management careers involve a range of international assignments short, medium and long-term. Before a stint abroad, make sure that you prepare yourself properly so that you can adjust to what can be a dramatic change in lifestyle.
To succeed on an international assignment, you must be able to accept that each culture makes sense to the people who live within it. Appreciate each culture’s potential value, and be ready to integrate what is of value into your way of working. Learn about the culture you will be visiting by reading, seeking cross-cultural training, developing friendships with overseas colleagues, and travelling.
Before you and your family leave for a lengthy assignment abroad, it is vital that you are all well-informed. Make sure that your family members feel totally involved in preparations for moving and that you discuss any concerns that they may have. Prepare your family for differences in everyday life, such as shopping, transport, postal services, and recreation. Find out about education and health care services in the country you will be living in. If you can, try to visit your host country with your family before committing yourself to going.
While you are abroad, you may find that cultural differences cause frustration. You can fight, flee, or go with the flow. The latter will help you to see how the host culture operates. This enables you to make adjustments and begin to adapt. Help yourself adjust by regularly contacting friends at home. Get to know other expatriates and make a point of continuing ordinary family rituals.
After the initial pleasure of getting home from a period of work abroad, you may feel an anticlimax. You are not the same person that you were, time has not stood still at home, and, often, few people are interested in what you have done. Counter any disappointment with some adjustment strategies. At work, set up sessions to communicate what you have learned and to highlight any valuable practices used in the country you have been living in. Encourage your family to reflect on the experience of having lived abroad.