The time has come. The meeting with the boss was great. You are needed. Abroad. The new product is to come off the production line in the foreign factory and you have become a real professional in the last few years. Besides, in your company it is anyway the case that you have to work abroad for a while to get ahead.
The first feeling of joy has now faded and with every second more and more questions arise: How will I be able to communicate? What will my partner say? What about the children? Where will we live? Practical questions, in other words.
And how will it go with the work? The task is huge! Will the local colleagues go along with it? The thoughts keep galloping...
It is clear that you did not receive such an offer by chance. You are good at what you do, professionally skilled. So congratulations! Your employer is counting on you for the long term. The assignment gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a foreign culture. It is also a good opportunity for a change of perspective. Many things can be seen differently when you change your point of view.
You should talk to HR or your superiors about the following points in a timely manner and, if possible, clarify them before departure:
· How long will your assignment last?
· Is an extension option already thinkable now?
· Will your employment contract continue or will the foreign organisation become your new employer?
· Will your salary change? Who will pay it?
· What tax and legal issues need to be clarified?
· Where will you live?
· What support will your employer offer you? Find a place to live? Moving to a new place? School for the children?
· Think about your return now. How will you organise it?
The professional part of the preparation essentially consists of these points and of course many more that are specific to you and your job:
- Your network is worth a fortune. This is even more true when you are no longer on site. Consciously invest more time in developing your relationships within the company.
- Clarify your task and role. Dissatisfaction with performance during the assignment is usually due to failures in this area.
- Talk about expectations that your current supervisors have.
- Deal with the expectations that will be placed on you abroad.
- Talk to colleagues who have been in your position before or are even your direct predecessors.
- Seek support. As part of your preparation, intercultural training is very useful. This way you can better adjust to the country and its people and avoid many misunderstandings. Unfortunately, this area in particular can be critical to success.
- Expat coaching is also an effective tool. Talk to your coach about anything that worries you. You will also receive support in preparing for the first days at work, the first meeting, the introductory speech, etc. Your coach should have an in-depth and personal knowledge of the culture and country you are being sent to. You need an expert on the country, not one who knows a bit about everything.
- Coaching will also help you with your mental preparation.
- Look for the best solution together with your family. Maybe the family doesn't want to come at all. What happens to the pets?
- Most companies offer the possibility of a look-and-see trip. Take part. It's important. And prepare yourself: Ask questions about the neighbourhood, cost of living, shopping, schools, etc.
- If the family wants to come along: What opportunities are there for your partner? It often makes sense for fellow expats to organise their own expat coaching. Their concerns are different. They have to organise family life in a new culture and it may be difficult to make social contacts. Coaching has a preventive and relieving effect.
- It is worth learning a few phrases or sentences in the foreign language. Especially in the somewhat smaller countries, such as Slovakia, Hungary and many others, people appreciate it. The investment will pay off.
An international assignment is an exciting time where you can grow not only professionally but also personally. Prepare well and get support to make this time a success.