An extensive global study by the American Management Association found that providing coaching to expatriates is associated with coaching success and improved market performance. (Mary key, Institute of Corporate Productivity “What Really Works When It Comes to Coaching”, June 2008).
Coaching, specifically for couples and their families, is increasingly being recognized as a potentially vital service for the success of expatriate assignments. Yet, this service, that could address the very heart of an expatriate families’ adjustment, is often found missing in many programs of expatriate services. Given the scope of the investment and the fact that the success of an expatriate assignment seems to be so heavily dependent on the expatriate’s spousal or family relationships, coaching for expatriates and their families should be made available in every international program of expatriate services and during every phase in the life cycle of an expatriate assignment (Miser & Miser, 2009).
So how could coaching enhance the prospect of an expatriate assignment? Furthermore, what determines the successful outcome of an expatriate assignment, and how can coaching increase the expatriate assignments success rate?
Expatriate families relocating across the globe will inevitably go through a degree of change with mixed results. How can coaching help those families adapt and easily transition to their new global circumstances?
Today’s business environment requires organizations to compete on a global scale. Because of better opportunities overseas, many firms are expanding abroad. In fact, some estimates show that companies have doubled the number of international assignees in recent years, despite the recent economic downturn. From a company’s perspective, international assignments can provide employees valuable lessons in international management and multi-cultural organizations.
While moving abroad suggests images of adventure and intrigue, for many expatriates and their families, the process can be very stressful. According to the ORC Worldwide 2007 Expatriate Work-Life Balance Survey, more than half (55%) of today’s international assignees are weighed down by added stress caused by longer hours, extended work days/weeks and cultural differences, among other factors. And two-thirds (65%) feel the strain of managing the demands of work and the well-being of the family.
Longer working hours, late night phone calls from headquarters many time zones off, long business trips, and an unhappy spouse at home who has abandoned her/his career to support the manager. These are just a few of the challenges now merging with the already well-known expatriate adjustment factors of culture shock, a new overseas office, and extensive regional travel to wreak havoc with the work-life balance of the modern day global manager working in a 24/7 economy.