As I research and develop new strategies to increase USAC student, US expatriate, and transpatriate success rates, I realize that job satisfaction and mission achievement are dependent on two things: the caliber of early training/preparation and the clear expectations of individual performance. These are the essential elements that students and employees must have in order to accomplish their learning or working objectives abroad.
Regardless of the reason for international travel, certain levels of preparation and study are required for optimal success overseas. In the last few months, through interviewing transnational companies and researching study abroad programs, I have found that intensive international training models are lacking. A successful trip overseas should include pre-travel assessments, continuous evaluation while abroad, and post-travel assessment in addition to supplemental cross-cultural sensitivity and customs training. As digital citizens, communication is made easy and bimonthly updates should be protocol for every student and employee. Dependable liaisons in both parent-country and host-country should be provided as well. Commitments to host-country relationships should be made far before the student or employee leaves the US and should be sustained while living in the host-country. Practicing the language and using local resources while participating in internships or volunteer positions can help speed through transition stages. Also, membership in community clubs, churches, and organizations should be considered to fast-track assimilation, strengthen relationships, maximize opportunities, and take advantage of time spent overseas. A clear understanding of host-country cultural dimensions should prepare the traveler for the new region’s values and customs.
Did you know that the US is known for having the highest expatriate failure rates? Research shows that this is largely due to family member cross-cultural inadaptability (not able to transition beyond culture shock stages). Often, US expatriates travel overseas with their spouse and children but companies underestimate their influence on employee performance. Companies should recognize the importance to thoroughly prepare family members as well as the employee. An unhappy family can lead to an unhappy expatriate; thus a lower return rate on company investments. Personalized training models that provide adaptation shortcuts will significantly help reduce periods of frustration and homesickness. Mentors and SykpePals (like pen-pals) will also encourage a faster transition even before the student or employee leaves America.
As we continue to notice the impact of world staffing for global operations, we witness the development of global citizens or third country nationals (TCNs). The amount of international accomplishment and job satisfaction presupposes the amount of time and money invested into overseas preparation. Increase your success rate while studying or working in a foreign country by being honest with what you are expected to achieve and what you must do in order to achieve it. Visualize yourself in the new living environment and make local mentor connections to guide your transition. Finally, dedicate sufficient time preparing for the language, cultural, and logistical differences abroad. For tricks, tips, and training, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can discuss the newest model of cross-cultural adaptation I am currently researching, designing, and testing to increase student, US expatriates, and transpatriate success rates.