The Many Facets of an Assignee’s Training Journey and Core Values  

There are many facets to training an assignees or expatriate. They involve cross-cultural social training, cross-cultural business training, security, remote, and repatriation, according to AZCentral. Training starts as soon as they sign the dotted line, and continues until their last day at work.

Training should also just focus on one core value, skill, or specialty. The challenges and changes that face them and the company they work for can increase at an accelerated rate, compelling assignees to always update themselves on their skills, knowledge, information, and workplace behavior Levelling up must be a constant frame of mind, and not an occasional step up as they advance on the corporate ladder.

It might also be wise for global mobility managers to revise their current training practices, making them more holistic and comprehensive, while integrating them with the various stages of the assignee’s professional journey.

Many global mobility managers do prepare their assignees for the cultural adjustment they would inevitably have to make once they relocate. Regardless of how vast the assignee’s knowledge is of the new country of employment, or even if they had spent some time on it previously, nothing can and should be left to chance. The country’s history, value system, and socio-economic system are already involved in the playbook. Language classes are often included as part of the package.

Cross-cultural training

However, what global mobility managers fail to distinguish is that cross-cultural training itself is divided into two: social and business. The first has to do with religion, social practices, customs, cuisine, and the general lifestyle behavior in a community or place. The second is more focused on the workplace environment and its rules and regulations that govern not just the company but the entire country.

Confusing cross-cultural training and business training or blurring the lines that divide them can hamper the assignee without their (or the global mobility manager) knowing it. The manager might assume for example that the standards that encourage generous gift-giving among the locals might be applied to corporate partners and clients once relationships with them are being strengthened or established. Later on, it might come as a shock that while the country of employment sees bestowing an exorbitant present to the local tribal head as a supreme act of courtesy, doing the same to the president of a company may be misconstrued as an act of bribery.

To differentiate again, cross-cultural social training immerses the assignee in what is socially acceptable behavior outside the four walls of the company. Body language, religious and ethnic taboos, holiday celebrations, and behavior toward different genders are some of the few examples. In a sense, cross-cultural business training is more rooted in the formal business structure and compliance with its laws and ethics such as disciplinary measures, performance metrics, and employee code of conduct.

Social behavior and business practices vary. For example, respect for the elderly is ingrained in many Asian countries to an extent that may surprise the more egalitarian West. Adult children still keep silent or at best respond in an even voice and respectful manner if their elders, such as their parents or clan heads, are presiding in a meeting. This can cross over to the formal departmental meeting when even the more accomplished thirtysomething managers do not volunteer an opinion unless their grey-haired company CEO asks for it.

This is why integrated training that makes pains to identify these two aspects and pinpoint where they are similar, where they differ, and where they converge are necessary. During sessions, the assignee can ask about specific situations where the dividing lines are not so clear and where social and business practices overlap.

Security training

While these two types of training are vital, the assignee just might prioritize the third type, which is security training. One of California Corporate Housing’s earlier blogs had pointed out that their safety and that of their family is the top concern of the assignee in 2018. Expatriate or safety assignee has been traditionally associated with health risks and exposure to crime in emerging nations.

However, the recent acts of terrorism even in the developed countries show that sudden violence that can lead to injury and harm should not be dismissed arbitrarily. Other security risks have to do with cyber attacks which can steal and then possibly leak not just corporate data, but the assignee’s confidential ones.

Security training may start with prepping up the assignee on any of the above risks that he might encounter in their new place of employment. Ongoing lessons once they start working may update them about viral outbreaks and the necessary vaccines. They can also give them regular crash courses on cyber security such as how to spot and neutralize the intrusion of malware, ransomware, and other destructive viruses. The brightest tech minds in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area  have not slowed down in their development of countermeasures against these online criminals, and the global mobility manager and assignee alike should follow their lead.

Technological flexibility

Technological flexibility is another skill or learning that the assignee must always aim for. Today’s project management software hit might be tomorrow’s useless also-ran. With both global mobility managers and assignees expected to be on the go at all times, with extensive traveling as part of their job description, online courses can go a long way in making them both experts in state-of-the-art wonders such as large-scale web conferencing and navigating AI chatbots.

Repatriation training

Finally, repatriation is the last but equally important training global mobility manager mut prepare the assignee for. After working closely with foreigners on their homeland for several years, goodbyes will not be easy for the assignee and their colleagues.

Turnaround and the tying up of loose professional ends are only the tip of the iceberg.

The assignee would have to be prepared again for the various phases of adjustment, regardless of whether they will return home or assigned to another country. Handling emotional mood swings, intellectual misgivings, and unexpressed doubts are part of the process. Repatriation training would be similar to onboarding, but the direction is one of exit, instead of entry.

This last phase might very well prove to be the most challenging for the global mobility manager, especially if the assignees are high performers.

Losing a valuable colleague and perhaps even a close friend would have a huge impact on everybody. Managing this final transition should soften the eventual blow and leave the assignee — and the organization — stronger than before.