Expats and Expat kids, “Do they still have seniority or friends when they get back home?” or “Who gets the promotion upon our return?” -by Manga Meinform, staff writer
As a father of multiple children, my concern for their wellbeing would be a deciding factor in my decision to work abroad. The length of the assignment would determine if I would attempt to relocate them with me out of country, as well as the political and economic environment of the foreign country in question.
Historically, I assumed foreign assignment would be an advantage when promotional considerations occur within the firm. However, I have learned that unforeseen situations can change the domestic business environment and render expatriates at least temporarily inappropriate for certain advancements that they may have been qualified for, if they had stayed in country.
Fear of being passed over for promotion or obtaining senior position after returning from foreign assignment should optimally be addressed before and after embarking on the assignment. As mentioned, there are situations where being out of the home country for an extended period of time creates disadvantages for newly repatriated employees to advance in position at the firm. The employer and expatriate must practice negotiation skills and strive to work together to understand and communicate concerns on both sides for the common good of the firm and the individual.
Finally, I have come across the fear-of-interference-with-stability mentioned more than once in the discussion of employee foreign assignment concerns. In business, as in life, the fear of the unknown stops many things from happening before they ever begin. The spirit of the entrepreneur is to face the unknown and to work through fear and difficulties as they arise.
The entrepreneur faces these fears not because they have all of the answers to the countless questions, but because of faith in ability. A successful expatriate must have faith in their ability to adapt to the new environment, faith in their family’s ability to adapt, and also faith in the strength of their company.
No retreat, only a treat.