CapRelo Blog

Recruit & Retain Talent with a Better Global Mobility Program

Posted by Amy Mergler on Tue, Nov 20, 2018

A robust and responsive global mobility program can make your organization stand out among your competitors and help you attract and retain the top talent in your industry. Find out how:

Recruit & Retain Top Talent

Topics: talent acquisition, talent retention, talent recruitment, global mobility policy, global mobility program

My Way, Your Way, Our Way in Global Mobility Programs

Posted by CapRelo on Tue, Oct 09, 2018

Today, we are joined by guest author, Nigel Ewington from TCO International.

Our WayRecently I got the opportunity to work with a Global Mobility professional who told me a story about a loss of trust she experienced in some global colleagues. She was feeling frustrated and let-down by the actions of some colleagues who had failed to follow the policy they had agreed together. It was made worse by the fact that she had only found out about the actions indirectly.

She was a Global Mobility VP working for a global manufacturing company and responsible for a tri-regional mobility program with key mobility stakeholders in Germany and China. This program was currently occupied with moving some German managers into China. The Mobility function had recently been through a process of drawing up and agreeing on new policy, with a strict set of processes to follow across the globe. Despite seeming to have secured agreement to these new policies from her regional colleagues at a three-way meeting in the USA, the Global Mobility VP had found out that one key area of policy linked to Transportation had been flouted in China. It seemed that the rules had been broken for a German C-suite executive moving to China, and no one had bothered to inform her.

On exploring the story more deeply, I learned that during the meeting itself the Global Mobility VP had presented her ideas about a new mobility policy and asked for reactions. She feared lack of buy-in from German team members, who asked her lots of difficult questions in response to her question. She had not anticipated that the flouting of the policy would come from her Chinese colleagues. At the meeting they had listened respectfully and merely commented that they were “grateful for these directions” and “would do their very best” to implement them. She left the meeting confident that buy-in had taken place. She was now mystified as to why this hadn’t happened.

As I reflected on the story, it seemed to me to be symptomatic of a key challenge besetting global mobility. In this VUCA (Volatile. Uncertain. Complex. Ambiguous) world, global mobility professionals themselves have to respond to the shifting needs of their internal customers by collaborating together as one global team with one shared policy across a number of locations. Here complexity is increased by the challenge of cultural differences and distance. They are faced with the challenge of who owns Global Mobility globally, and how to make new levels of global collaboration work

If the ownership of Global Mobility is now dispersed globally, it takes special sensitivity to make sure that the cross-border collaboration is effective. The communication problem our VP faced here was not a lack of clarity nor a lack of respect, but a failure to get real buy-in from her global colleagues.

While it is a universal truth that as human beings we all love to communicate our intentions, this story reveals that we have different cultural assumptions about how to go about doing this. Chinese tend to be higher-context in their communication style, avoiding over-direct use of text and assuming that their important messages will be read between the lines. Inference, body language and situational cues are the tools of the high-context communicator. Germans on the other hand, tend to be lower-context in style, preferring to communicate the critical nature of what they are thinking more directly in the exact text of what they say. They are more direct in challenging others, even when maintaining a good relationship is critical to them. Americans – sitting culturally in the middle of these two other cultures – may misconstrue the Chinese indirectness for agreement and the German critical feedback for aggression. Here, a failure to understand the Your Way of effective communication, and how it may differ from My Way may compromise the formulation of a workable global Our Way for moving forward globally.

The lack of cultural sensitivity revealed in this case was not only a question of communication. I learned that the Global Mobility VP had dug deeper into the exact local context in which there had been a flouting of the Transportation allowance policy. In this organization’s policy, assignees are given a Transportation allowance of USD 1,000 per month used to subsidize transportation needs. Such needs include car rental, use of taxis, etc. In China, due to the regulations, expats are not encouraged to drive on their own, and car rentals tend to come with a driver instead. The German C-suite executive assumed that the car and driver was an entitlement and demanded the full costs to pay for it, although the intention was to subsidize the cost, not pay the full entitlement. Local HR acquiesced and paid from another budget.

If we accept that the Chinese mobility team was aware of the rules, despite having some concerns that they had not voiced at the meeting in the US, why did they simply not follow them? Is this possibly another cultural factor relating to understand the “your way” of global collaboration, or is it simply a lack of professionalism?

Research indicates that cultures have different assumptions about rules vs. exceptions. In all cultures we need to find the right balance between knowing when to follow the rule regardless of the context, and when to adapt the rule according to special circumstances.  Some cultures can be described as “universalist,” where people tend to follow the rule regardless of the context in which it is applied. In “particularist” cultures, on the other hand, rules always need to be reinterpreted to meet the needs of particular people in particular contexts. Very often like China, such “particularist” cultures tend to be also “hierarchical” in style, where people tend to maximize the deference and privileges given to bosses, rather than minimize them.

This “particularist,” hierarchical side of Chinese culture and the flexible approach to rules that ensues can be a source of frustration to “universalist” global partners, but it can provide the sensitive handling of the delicate needs of key stakeholders locally that is critical to the implementation of mobility programs

In reflecting on the learning from this story, it occurred to me that one of the features of this story is the gap between intentions and impact, which is typical of breakdowns in global collaboration. Both sides have positive intentions in what they do and say, but due to a smokescreen of instinctive cultural styles the impact is often negative. To get real buy-in in a world where ownership of global mobility is dispersed across locations, the Global Mobility VP should have avoided leading with a presentation of her own first draft of policy, before getting reactions. Instead she could have framed the intentions of policy, and before getting to drafting rules of guidelines, she should have listened and explored how key stakeholders would implement those intentions in key global locations. In this way she would have learned about some of the cultural differences – both of the “harder,” more visible kind and the “softer,” more attitudinal and values-driven kind – revealed in the case.

I was reminded of the trilemma of focusing on My Way vs. Your Way vs. Our Way when collaborating and building buy-in in a global context. Whereas undoubtedly, to build trust you need to be yourself, authentic and honest. However, the My Way needs to be tempered with awareness and skills in understanding the Your Way of your global partners. Only in this way can you reflect on the best Our Way for turning positive intentions into effective communication, process and policy.

 

About Nigel Ewington

Nigel is a co-founding partner of TCO who has worked for over 20 years with over 100 organizations in the area of developing global agility.  He has developed a deep understanding of what organizations need to do in order to thrive and prosper in a complex, diverse and changing world. This has been honed by his experience of living and working in other countries, as well as his own agility in travelling around the world on assignments where on a week-to-week basis he needs to bring value to many different kinds of people in many different cultural and organisational contexts.

A key underlying gift that Nigel brings to TCO clients is how to get the best out of themselves and others when managing change across geographic and organizational boundaries. Here he has built a strong reputation as a presenter, trainer and facilitator, from the very largest events on the theme of global leadership down to small, compact leadership teams that are looking increase productivity in terms of how they work together. He has been instrumental in creating the signature concepts, models and activities that make TCO original and unique.

 

Topics: global mobility policy, global mobility, global assignments, communication

Global Mobility Snapshot

Posted by CapRelo on Thu, Aug 09, 2018

Millions of American workers relocate annually, many taking on international assignments as businesses develop and broaden their global mobility programs to take advantage of the expanding global economy. Here is a snapshot of global mobility in 2018.

Global Mobility Snapshot Infographic

Topics: global mobility, global mobility policy, talent mobility

Benefits of Using Global Mobility Management Company Compensation Services

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Aug 02, 2018

Top view of successful businessman standing near the entrance of labyrinthCompensation services are so complex that it may make sense for companies to outsource them to a specialist. Global mobility management companies have extensive experience working with the regulatory requirements of different countries, so they know the relevant intricacies of local compliance and reporting. Because they understand the challenges the employer faces, they know how to relieve the employer of the burden of administration so the company can concentrate on more strategic objectives. In addition, they understand the requirements of compensation data collection by country and can assume this laborious task for the employer.

Global mobility management companies that offer compensation services have technology and processes in place that allow for fast, accurate and compliant reporting. This eliminates the need for companies to invest in acquiring these platforms and results in considerable cost savings.

In addition, they provide the required expertise and manpower. This prevents employers from having to invest in acquiring employees with this knowledge, which can be both challenging and expensive when the level of expertise needed to manage compensation services for a number of different global locations is taken into account.

Furthermore, ensuring accurate, timely payroll and reporting prevents companies from running into problems with regulatory and tax agencies at home and host locations. Being compliant and responsible not only prevents problems, it can pave the way for more business opportunities in the host locations.

A global mobility program can offer significant value to a company, not only due to the business opportunities it presents, but also because it facilitates the attraction and retention of quality talent. However, to remain in compliance with the rules and regulations of various countries, a well-run global mobility program needs accurate, timely administration and bookkeeping. Working with a global compensation services provider offers companies a cost-effective way to gain access to the expertise, manpower and resources needed to maintain centralized, organized payroll and tax reporting. And when the service provider assumes the responsibility of maintaining the latest technology platforms, it frees up the company and its employees so they can concentrate on their core business efforts.

The Value of Global Compensation Services

Topics: compensation and benefits, global compensation services, compensation services, global mobility policy, global mobility management company

5 Important Topics to Include in a Global Assignment Letter of Understanding

Posted by Amy Mergler on Thu, Jul 19, 2018

Image of businessman at airport looking at airplane taking offOne way to help ensure global assignment success is to prepare an effective global assignment letter of understanding that outlines the pertinent details and benefits of the assignment in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretation. 

After your letter of understanding addresses specific information regarding the scope of the assignment, you can delve into the specifics of your global mobility policy and explain the benefits the employee will receive.

Explain Your Global Mobility Policy

Your letter should summarize the portions of your global mobility policy that are applicable to the employee. Among the issues your policy addresses, it is important to include information on the five topics below because they are:

  • The most costly components of an assignment or transfer and
  • Usually the greatest stressors to an employee, which can cause reduced productivity.

Relocation Expenses

When writing the letter, review your policies to determine what is relevant to the particular employee. While it’s not recommended to copy your policy verbatim into the letter, you should summarize:

  • Specific expenses and the amounts the company pays for directly.
  • Types of expenses that can be reimbursed, along with any limits. Note whether the employee is required to document each expense, should submit a consolidated summary or will be given a lump sum amount for miscellaneous expenses.
  • The ongoing allowances for specific benefits.
  • Expenses the employee is responsible for paying.
  • Repayment agreement terms.

Moving Household Goods

Household goods shipments can be a significant part of your overall global relocation expense. The moving cost can vary widely depending upon whether the employee is relocating permanently or will be on assignment for a set length of time, the distance between the current and destination locations and the family size.

Global movement of household goods will typically include sea and air shipments and long-term storage. The letter of understanding should be clear on what is covered. Typical benefits include a 20-foot or 40-foot container and 500 pounds for an air shipment. Long-term storage is generally only provided for those on assignment, and for the length of the assignment.

The cost of storage and valuation coverage for household goods must also be considered. Your letter should specify the amount the company will pay for household goods transport, storage and valuation along with any limitations or restrictions.

Tax Implications and Assistance

Taxes Concept on File Label in Multicolor Card Index. Closeup View. Selective Focus.Global assignments and relocation can have significant tax implications. The letter of understanding should outline the assistance provided, which may include a pre-assignment/relocation orientation with a third-party tax provider, tax return preparation assistance and tax equalization. It should also include details on the employee’s and the company’s responsibilities. The company’s tax provider may also suggest including a tax equalization addendum that outlines the company’s policy to be signed by the employee.

Immigration

The letter of understanding should emphasize the importance of compliance with global immigration laws and should outline the assistance provided by the immigration partner or department. The employee’s responsibilities to provide accurate and timely information and to follow all instructions regarding travel limitations of the host country should be clearly documented. The assignment or relocation cannot begin until required immigration documents are obtained.

Housing and Settling In Assistance

Getting your employee and their family settled into a new residence is crucial because it helps them to return to full productivity quickly. Each employee is unique. Some may need temporary housing while they search for a new residence. Your letter should reflect the level of assistance the company provides.

  • Temporary Housing: Summarize what provisions the company makes for temporary living and for how long.
  • Home Finding Travel: Summarize the assistance the company provides, such as home finding trips. Include the number of trips allowed, the expenses covered and the family members approved.
  • Destination Services: Summarize the services the company provides, which might include home finding assistance, orientation to the new area, contacts with local schools, colleges, medical facilities, etc.
  • Long-Term Housing (Assignments Only): Summarize the housing assistance provided, including monthly housing allowance based on family size and location, method of payment, utilities included and employee responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep.

Ideally, your letter of understanding should focus on the employee and the benefits of the new role while creating a positive impression and enthusiasm for the new opportunity. Make sure to outline the expectations and responsibilities in the new role to avoid any possible misunderstanding. Explain and summarize the relevant points from your global mobility policy, paying particular attention to the five topics discussed above.

Writing an International Letter of Understanding

Topics: global mobility, global assignments, global mobility management, letter of understanding, global mobility policy

New Call-to-action

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all