Insights of a Global Mobility Manager

Imy Clarke - On behalf of Alchemy Recruitment, August 27, 2015

A Global Mobility Manager is responsible for overseeing the entire assignment management team; ultimately ensuring that the client and relocating employee have their needs and requirements met. Global Mobility Managers enjoy a varied job as they experience more than just the average day-to-day grind.

There are a great number of obstacles that a Global Mobility Manager can face every day; one of which is that every assignee is different and some expats just aren’t cut out to be away from their family. Unfortunately these expats may not even realize it until they get off the plane.

This is often the case for a short-term assignment (STA), as most of the time these assignments hold a policy to move unaccompanied. An anonymous blogger working in an international company, calling herself Ms Sterious, encountered such an issue with an American assignee in London. Only after 7 days into his assignment, he informed Ms Sterious and her team that he was going to go home. Unable to even consider all other options, like the potential to see his family sooner or taking a break while continuing assignment, his decision was made and he left. He later explained the reason for doing so; he had underestimated the effect that being away from his wife and kids was going to have.

However, the fallout from his decision was extensive, from the UK line manager to the assignees landlord. There was the question of whether the US or UK business would cover the cost of the failed assignment, including the leased apartment. It was the US team that firstly assured his competence, but then the question was raised, could Ms Sterious and her Global Mobility team in the UK have done more to support him in the beginning of his assignment?

The experience of expats themselves, their trials and tribulations, are documented all around the internet, with every inch of their daily life surveyed. Yet, what about the experiences of the companies they work for, and what happens to these companies when they are faced with the misfortune of a homesick assignee? Ms Sterious explored this issue, running a survey within the leadership of Global Businesses who have previously made use of Global Mobility teams. There were ideas and suggestions from both ends of the spectrum and admittedly some suggestions were far-fetched, but all responses were collated and a series of workshops went ahead.

Some thought assignees needed more assistance so they could focus wholly on their jobs upon arrival; others thought assignees had their hands held too much. Some believed that spouses needed more support; others thought that single employees should be targeted for assignment so this problem was avoided. The only items that were agreed on were the following:

  1. It is the responsibility of the assignee to manage their own career and identify their next role after the assignment
  2. Only high performers can go on assignment

Being no clearer on any sort of strategy as there are so many questions, suggestions and ideas, the survey was found to be inconclusive. It was settled that as every assignee is different there was not just one simple answer. So instead Ms Sterious offers some advice to any other global mobility manager:

“Persevere, stay calm, remain professional and when all else fails…drink gin!!!”

Posted in categories: International
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