Leaving one's country and adapting to a completely new lifestyle can prove to be a difficult task. Culture shock, which is the anxiety experienced by a person when living and working in an unfamiliar cultural environment, is often overlooked by corporations that relocate their employees and families, sometimes due to the fact that cultural norms and values are invisible.
In order to ensure the success of assignees (also known as expatriates) and mitigate the effects of culture shock, it is important to develop cross-cultural competencies through coaching. These competencies provide assignees with invaluable tools required in today’s global workplace. This type of coaching entails the thorough preparation of an individual, who has been given the opportunity to relocate, possibly affording them a promotion and/or opportunity to exchange knowledge and experience in a new culture. Cross-cultural coaching or intercultural coaching, serves to increase the knowledge and competencies that an individual may require to adjust to a new culture. It also aids in the reduction of anxiety caused by culture shock and thus, in the facilitation of adjustment to a new living and working environment.
Why Cross-Cultural Coaching?
Often times when individuals think about going abroad to work, the usually concentrate on foreign language and their lack of competency in the native language of the receiving or host country. Not many people recognise that culture plays an important role not only in language, but in the way we communicate, view time, build relationships and gain trust. It therefore affects how persons from different backgrounds react to situations and ultimately how they do business. Cross-cultural coaching is therefore necessary to build successful business relationships and facilitate longevity in the workplace in a new host country.
Cross-cultural coaching also helps on a personal level, as it reduces assignees’ anxiety and that of their family and aids in their day to day living. When leaving one’s comfort zone, it is natural to have expectations and fears, due to the fact that there are so many unknowns. Simple things such as greetings, sharing meals, manner of dress and taboo topics of discussion can mean the difference between success and failure in a new culture. Values and norms differ from place to place and can impact an individual in a new environment. Intercultural coaching will therefore equip assignees with the tools needed to successfully execute their mission in the host country.
How is Cross-Cultural Coaching done?
Cross-cultural coaching can be delivered in many different ways:
- Coaching can be delivered in as little as a few hours or a more in-depth programme is delivered over a few days.
- Sessions can be done virtually, via Skype, FaceTime and other web applications and online platforms or in person.
- Coaching can delivered using a workshop or lecture-type environment.
- If an entire family is moving together, there are programmes designed for different age groups as per their specific needs, e.g. youth and adult programmes.
Please share your thoughts and comments with us. We would love to hear from you.