Mastering the New Normal or How Companies Like Culturally Agile Employees

In an era that has been described as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous, assignees and the global mobility managers guiding them have to be more agile than most. This observation can come as a mild shock to those concerned, because assignees are expected to be agile. That is one prerequisite in their onboarding.

They are expected not just to adjust but to be able to adapt with their immediate workplace as well as the foreign culture (at least, to them) surrounding it. As noted by Cultural Agility Leadership, leaders do expect assignees and expatriates to be flexible than their colleagues, a quality which does prime them for global leadership later on.

The agility that is fast being required of all employees everywhere — especially expatriates — is more focused on other elements of change, aside from cultural adaptation.

The business world is constantly evolving, and companies and their personnel have to be ready to swim with the tides of change at any given moment. The learning curve may be steep and short, and only those who can master it — or at least manage to handle it — might survive the next round in the competition.

Global mobility managers themselves cannot keep still or sit on their laurels. While they may not require as much adaptation to their home country’s culture and traditions (naturally), they do have to take the lead in anticipating the changes that are about to happen. They do have to keep their ear to the ground at all times. Only then can they make the necessary recommendations to their executives on the proper program for response, and guide their assignees accordingly.

Relocate Global enumerates the areas where global mobility managers can expect change to come:

The business environment

Today’s hottest product that is sending the stock market on a high ride might be tomorrow’s scorned failure.

The technology that is responsible for increasing a company’s market share might be replaced by a more dynamic platform the next month.

One country might be the hub of the best global talent, but protectionist legislation suddenly implemented can delay any projects in recruitment.

Global mobility managers have to look beyond their immediate responsibilities of recruitment and training, to develop a working but useful awareness of how the other industries are evolving. One change can impact their own global mobility projects.

Environmental shifts and disruptions

Businesses that have lorded it for decades can suddenly feel their financial tectonic plate shift, thanks to dynamic upstarts that have captured the market’s imagination. Hotels are facing stiff competition from Airbnb, and Uber and other ridesharing services are giving traditional transport a run for their money.

Expect entire industries like oil and gas to ramp up their arsenal should electric cars gain widespread traction. Global mobility managers who are watching these changes would be able to anticipate the direction that their respective companies will go to—and the kind of talent that they would have to hire.

Threats and opportunities

Global mobility managers who can take all these changes in stride will be able to grasp the threats and opportunities that the new business landscape will present their companies.

They can then align their global strategies to maximize the potential benefits while reducing the risks. More important, they can also focus their recruitment on finding assignees with similar temperament and “like-minds” who can master the new normal without breaking a sweat.

Assignees who work in tech hubs in Northern California might probably have a better chance in anticipating and handling the coming changes. But regardless of their location, agility is the order of the day. Assignees as well as their global mobility managers should prioritize learning this new skill.