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The dream life in a foreign land.

An overseas assignment could be the perfect opportunity for you to build a dream life together with your trailing spouse. With a new good paying job, new exotic city/country to explore, a blank slate to design your new life together – its like having an extended honeymoon all over again. The myriad of possibilities, a fresh start in an exotic new place. Just like a honeymoon, you and your spouse get to explore the exciting new land, immerse yourself in a different culture and entertain envious friends who look forward to being hosted by a “local” while on vacation at your new location.

However, moving aboard as a couple can be deceptively glamorous. The reality is actually a lot more frustrating, difficult and outright lonesome. The amount of planning, arrangement and changes that you will face is astounding. And while you are finally settling into a new work environment, working with new colleagues and perhaps a new work culture, you may not notice that your spouse is facing an entirely different set of challenges. Do not underestimate the enormity of the difficulty your spouse may face to settle down in following you along on this new adventure. Whether they can settle down well will dictate whether the new life together is going to be a dream, or a disaster.

So, of all the challenges, what is the most important thing to do when you move?

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Create your New Supportive Network!

What is a “supportive/support network”, or “social support”?

Having a “support network” means having friends and individuals; including spouses, children and the extended family, to turn to in times of need or crisis. This support network provides a broader perspective on issues and improves someone’s self-image/self-esteem. Having social support enhances an individual’s personal well-being, quality of life and the ability to cope with adverse life events. Why is this important, particularly for expats and their spouse?

supportnetwork

Moving abroad to a new country, rebuilding a new life, especially one that is located in a place where they do not speak the language can be extremely challenging, frustrating and lonely. By someone uprooting themselves and their family from their comfort zone to a new country entirely, they effectively cut themselves off from their existing supportive network. These people often find themselves missing their acquaintances, or even strangers that they met during a simple trip to the nearby supermarket. In a strange new land, individuals have no one to turn to when they encounter problems, not even someone to hang out with to get a drink – life becomes surprisingly lonely and isolated. This can happen, despite the fact that someone has a spouse with them on their new adventure.

In a strange new land, individuals have no one to turn to when they encounter problems, not even someone to hang out with to get a drink – life becomes surprisingly lonely and isolated.

According to research about social isolation, having a small social network, infrequent participation in social activities and feeling of loneliness, poses real and substantial health risks. The lack of a robust support network contributes to a noticeable cognitive decline, emotional instability and even clinical depression. The result is a significant reduction in the overall quality of life. Constant irritability, depressive mood swing, reduced interests in activities (along with withdrawal from any further activities that help integration into the new society), as well as significant weight loss/gain can also occur.

The lack of a robust support network contributes to a noticeable cognitive decline, emotional instability and even clinical depression.

The lack of social belonging will eventually sap the remaining energy in someone, and as a result, the effects left are constant fatigue, plummeting self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, excessive/inappropriate guilt, and a loss of focus and decision-making capabilities will follow suit. If either party as a couple falls into this psychological spiral, the relationship will definitely be at risk. Quarrels and fights will become frequent, and communication between the couple will become lesser or stop completely – which will exacerbate the health/mental issue of one or both partners. The expat dream will inevitably end. One or both of the people will want to return home as the relationship will worsen. The working expat career will take a step backwards as the overseas assignment will end in failure.

How to avoid this scenario?

It is imperative that those who are moving into a new job overseas quickly build a social life around new colleagues, make new friends and to also include the trailing spouse in new social circles.

Create a supportive network, such as meeting neighbours, hanging out with new colleagues of the working spouse, joining an expat or interest group in order to meet people who share things in common and even engaging in volunteer activities. Most importantly, it is good to offer sensitivity, understanding and supportiveness for a trailing spouse (as the working spouse can usually settle down much easier and faster, as they immediately start off with a working social circle).

If you need help in the relocation of your spouse to settle into a new country, we are here to give you that support. Get in touch with us.

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The Intangible Demands of a Leader

“You’re fired!”

Everyone is familiar of the catchphrase, made famous by Donald Trump in “The Apprentice”. The common perception of charismatic top corporate leaders is high–power individuals that are extremely objective, highly confident in their viewpoints, and have strong beliefs in their own abilities. They are also individuals who are not afraid to upset and dismiss people. These stereotypical traits are perpetuated in movies, soap operas and in reality shows.
leader

However, what seems like objective mindedness, confidence, and strong self-belief could actually be; an unmistakable lack of empathy, a strong bias over his/her own viewpoints over those working under them and also, self-centeredness. Some might even say they possess a lack in their ability to correctly perceive other perspectives.

The truth is, as an individual grows in stature and position within the corporate ladder, the demand for interpersonal and relational skills increases ten-fold. Being able to see, understand, and deal effectively with other perspectives is key to being a successful leader. This largely involves an important behaviour, and that is, through empathy.

Empathy, compassion and overall self-awareness are the three main qualities of a developed and matured mind. The clarity from self-knowledge fine-tunes one’s understanding of perspectives, values, aims, and personality traits of others. Resilient to stress, a mature leader is able to manage internal conflicts, connect with both members of the senior management team as well as the subordinates and still maintain a personal well-being – which stimulates a more panoramic view of the problems and unpredictable challenges that daunts the leader.

a mature leader is able to manage internal conflicts, connect with both members of the senior management team as well as the subordinates and still maintain a personal well-being

Increased power tends to make one self-centered, self-assured and more prone to dismiss or misunderstand the viewpoints of those who lack authority. The ability to correctly perceive others and their insights are diminished with increased power. Increased power diminishes the ability to be empathic an compassionate, because power appears to affect the “mirror system” of the brain, which is responsible for experiencing what another person is experiencing.

Leaders need to build awareness of one-self, through honest self-appraisals that relate to emotional strengths and vulnerabilities, emphasising the importance of overcoming self-interest and delusion, and the need to be open to personal growth and development. It is tempting for leaders to believe that they are not the one who needed change. With that said, leaders need to remain ready for change, but also to know what to change, on a personal level.

Once the three qualities of a matured mind is developed, you cease to be simply a set of skills performing a role but instead, become an enabler for everyone who works around you in order to achieve a greater synergy and effectiveness.

Are you ready for the intangible demands that being a leader entails?

Contact us today.

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The Emotions and Plight of a Retrenched

Few people understand the range of emotions and issues that a newly unemployed individual faces during retrenchment.

Senior managers who have been with an organisation for a long period of time, are faced with a very complex range of emotions. Their personal life, family, hobbies and leisure activities have all been scheduled and designed around their specific work and the sustenance that it provides. The type of apartment that they buy, the car that they drive, the lifestyle that they lead, and even the food the food that they eat. For those managers who are married with children, the school their children goes to, and the classes that they have signed up, etc. all make a difference. Social life beyond the family unit is usually pegged with the corporate title of the manager, as well as the people they interact with at work.

But just through a retrenchment exercise these basic components of their lives unravel rapidly; similar to a car trying to run without wheels – life simply grinds to a halt.
depressed

All these tangibles are nothing compared to the intangible pains that is to be inflicted on a newly unemployed individual.

Shock is always going to be the first emotion to hit upon hearing this terrible news. As the whole world crumbles around these individuals, anger and denial starts to set in, as they question, “Why me?”, “I have always done my best!”

Their self-confidence starts to plummet as they unknowingly think to themselves that they are at fault, scrutinising all the possible fault lines over the recent past and psychologically punishing themselves for what went wrong and what could they have done differently.

Reality starts to set in, coupled with an increase in anxiety and panic as the focus is now on the impending financial disaster. This most likely occurs if these individuals had not been doing their financial planning properly or saving up for rainy days.

The feeling of shame and self-blame conflicted with their responsibility to share the news with their family ails them. An overall sense of helplessness, perhaps an outburst of an unwarranted release of pent-up anger is thrust upon their family. Irritable and confused, they continue the downward spiral towards deep depression.

In their mind, “If only someone could help at this moment, tell me what to do, and guide me out of this crisis”.

We are the answer to these seemingly unending problems, and we can help.

Contact us today.

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Survival 101: Staying Employable

staying employable

In today’s ever-changing business climate, falling victim to retrenchment, or losing your job for any reasons at all – is not only possible but very likely to happen at least once in your life time. The pace of business has picked up in speed considerably over the past few years, along with quick technological changes. Some companies have turned their shutters before they even show the fruits of their labour.

According to International Labour Organisation, job instability has been increasing over the past few years, which have been caused by low rate of employment through permanent contracts since the financial crisis. Only 1 in 4 is employed on a permanent basis, globally. Taking your job for granted is generally, not a wise decision. We all must prepare ourselves for any sudden changes in company direction, which includes letting go of employees as they downsize or streamline their processes, as well as the rising trend of employing individuals on temporary or short-term contracts.

We cannot stop the demand for more short-term or temporary contracts, but we can possess transferable skills and intangible qualities that help us to stay employable, at the very least.

Communication and analytical skills, resourcefulness, a strong network and having a great personality that encourages teamwork and accountability among colleagues are skills that are attractive to employers and anyone seeking to hire competent employees.

All of these valuable skills will definitely allow you to be more resilient towards the increased mercy of volatile market forces.

Want to learn how to equip yourself with these vital skills?

Contact us today.

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Providing that Crucial and Necessary Help

Downsizing, retrenchment, layoffs – whichever the term is used, cutting out employees from an organisation is no easy task for senior managers who are assigned to let go previous employed individuals.

In many situations, senior managers often find themselves having to play the role of the villain. They consistently deal with emotional episodes with each retrenched individual, a difficult task to do so, especially when the person they are laying off is someone who they have trusted and worked with for many months or even years.

However, it is possible to lessen the usual negative effect that comes with a layoff, which can be done when a proper outplacement program is put in place.

 

handshake

Senior managers who are given a clear idea of the steps involved in the layoff process, as well as support and help along the way is extremely beneficial. Managers who let their staff know that, they will not be leaving them in limbo, and that the company in question will be doing everything possible to put them in the right path for the next phase of their life is very comforting.

The sincerity of the managers in looking out for the laid off individuals during this trying time will eventually show through, making the final handshake palatable and touched with a sense of gratefulness. It is not anyone’s fault when an organisation is forced into making a drastic human resource correction and adjustment. Laid off employees may not accept that they are the ones being sacrificed in this exercise, but they can eventually understand the decisions and underlying circumstances that forced the hands of the decision makers during this process.

Until the day that these employees finally leave the company, it is an opportunity for senior managers to assist them in every way possible. This is simply the very least managers can do for their comrades who had been fighting by their side for a specific amount of time. Senior managers must ensure that these employees are prepared to get into the job market again; having the prerequisites to ace interviews, learning new skills along the way and even explore in starting up and pursuing their own dreams.

Senior managers can be the answer to the needs of these people, and show them how much you appreciated them.

Contact us today. We can help.

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Do not Ignore Your Human Capital

It is a common adage to note that people are the most valuable asset in any organisation. And, this is not surprising when you take a serious look at the claim. As “turnaround king” Marcus Lemonis, entrepreneur and star of CNBC show “The Profit”, explains, “You can take a crappy process and an average product and put the A-Team on it, and you’ll beat somebody with a great process, a great product, and bad people.

He emphasised, “The question is, what’s most important between people, process, and product? It’s not even a competition, it’s people. End of story. People, at the end of the day, are all that matters”” .

“The question is what’s the most important between people, process, and product? It’s not even a competition, it’s people. End of story. People, at the end of the day, is all that matters”

And, if you accept what Marcus said and take it to heart, then you will also immediately come to realise that the few whom are absolutely vital to the operations of an entire business, those who serve as the hub and heart of the company, and make critical decisions on a daily basis, deserves a lot more attention to their development, both as individuals and as leaders in an organisation.
human capital

Economist Theodore Schultz invented the term, “Human Capital”, in the 1960s, it was used to describe the very phenomena pertaining to how our human capacities are like any other type of capital. Through investment in education, training, and enhanced benefits – an improvement in quality of work and level of production is able to be induced, resulting in a higher economic value for the organisation as a whole.

Today, forward looking companies have started employing executive coaches to work with executive for a variety of reasons including; succession grooming, leadership development, performance coaching, interpersonal skills, promotion support, transition management, etc… Companies that do not invest in their employees find themselves running the risk of losing out to the competition in terms of competitiveness, talent drain and even wasting away untapped potential that had always been evident in the team

Invest in your team today.

Contact us in order to understand more.

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Untold Struggles of the Trailing Spouse

Expat lives are often portrayed as an exciting and glamorous affair. Beautiful exotic locales, delicious food, interesting people… And more often than not the role of the trailing spouse that followed the expat executive to new lands are largely envied and lyrically waxed upon. Thrilling opportunities to live and experience life in a new land, no working pressure, an ability for someone to do anything they desire, and the prospect of an extended honeymoon of sort.
spousesupport

However, reality is often not as beautiful as it seems.

The excitement of a brand new experience in life can be quickly dampened by the difficulty to accomplish even the simplest things like the frustration of finding one’s way around time. Culture shock and language can be another limitation. Settling into a new city is a lot harder than most people think. While the working spouse has an advantage of going to work daily, having benefits such as structured days, a social life at work (and after work) and the ability to maintain a professional identity, the trailing spouse will have to make do with being completely reliant – financially, socially and emotionally – on the working spouse.

…the trailing spouse will have to make do with being completely reliant – financially, socially and emotionally – on the working spouse.

The amount of time it takes to make new friends and feel comfortable in a new country is often underestimated. According to research, conducted by academics from Brigham Young University, “low social interaction has the equivalent lifespan impact as smoking 15 cigarettes daily or being a raging alcoholic. Cutting yourself off from others is worse, even, than in inactivity. And twice as bad as obesity.” In other words, trailing spouses immediately face hazardous situations upon settling into their new life. Social disconnectedness and isolation have distinct associations with worsening of one’s physical and mental health.

Without the right preparation and mindset before making a big move, the state of stress and discontent from feeling unfulfilled and lacking in direction from the trailing spouse, is detrimental to the success of the overseas placement of the working spouse.

Fortunately, with the right assistance and support, these issues can be managed.

Contact us today.