Monthly Archives: November 2011

Moving to China? Tips for success.

Guest post by Jon Fields, co-creator of the “Living and Working in China” cross-cultural course

“I am moving to China!”

People from around the world are increasingly finding themselves
uttering these words.  As China has emerged as the most important
growth market in the world people from around the globe are flocking
to cities like Beijing and Shanghai in search of opportunities.

Currently there are between 3 and 4 million foreigners living in
China; Shanghai is home to more than 300,000 expats from 119 countries
and regions and the population is expected to reach 800,000 over the
next ten years.For business people considering a move to the Middle Kingdom, and
companies posting people to China, what are the ingredients that make
up a successful expat move to China?Here are my 6 Difference Makers in Successful Expat Postings to China.
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1)       Bring Something That’s Not Already Available

A foreigner coming to China takes away a Chinese person’s job or
promotion, and the money spent on expat packages could employ office
floors full of Chinese staff.    Chinese workers know this all too
well.  While the majority still see the necessity for some expats in a
multinational’s China operation, they expect the foreigner to be

highly proficient in something that fills in a gap in the
organization.  Simply having worked as a middle manager at
headquarters will not impress the team and will not gain their
confidence, respect and build the rapport needed to successfully
manage Chinese staff.  Therefore, expats should be chosen first on
their professional skill and how they will contribute to the specific
goals of the China organization, and they should be informed in
advance what those are.
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2)      Come to China for the Right Reasons

Many people see China as an adventure, and in many ways it is, but expats looking for personal fulfillment over the companies’ goals are not good fits for success in China.   Most of the time there is only a small number of people in a company who both possess the right qualifications and a willingness to move to China.  As a result, often those people who are the most enthusiastic about going are the ones that get the job, regardless of their true motivation.    Classic types include late career managers looking to find the fountain of youth (and frequently a much younger wife); unseasoned managers who end up
focusing mainly on exotic travel and rowdy socializing; or the
do-nothing “I’m just here for the money” bosses who can turn into cancer for a China organization.  Companies should always delve deeply into a candidate’s reasons and motivations about going to China before making any decisions.

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3)      Have an Stable Family and/or Emotional LifeChina is a stressful place to live.  The market is ultra competitive
and fast changing.  Cities are crowded and polluted.  The language and
culture can seem impenetrable.  And there is no let-up.  These strains
push even the most stable people and families to their limits.   For
this reason, China postings can lead to serious marital and personal
problems for the wrong person.  It is critical that both partners in
the marriage (and children), all feel right about the move and want to
experience China as a couple or as a family.  If the father is working
and the wife and kids stay behind the walls of a expat only compound,
they are not experiencing China together.  Companies should take the
step to talk to the family about the move and consider especially the
spouse’s plans to stay busy and positive while living in China.
One of the ways to help expats and their families determine if they will be happy in China is offer them a full course on living and working in China before they make their decision.  This way they can self-select themselves out and save the company headaches and lost revenue of an early return.  “Living and Working in China” online course is available for self-study and self-assessment through the Global Coach Center Academy for Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Education — and has been  co-authored by yours truly.
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4) Understand the Power of Diplomacy

A foreign manager who always sides with headquarters and tells his or
her Chinese staff to “Just do it – that’s what they want back home”
will never develop a loyal or independent team of Chinese staff, which
is the key to long term success.  The Chinese staff looks to expat
managers to work as a bridge between China and the home office,
providing insight and advice in both directions.  That expat must know
when to stand up for the Chinese organization and negotiate hard with headquarters, as well as how to find a way to sell unpopular initiatives to the Chinese staff in a way that doesn’t de-motivate.   So the successful China expat must be a diplomat in the best sense of the word:  a deal maker who tries to understand both sides of an argument and seeks to find a common ground to move things forward for long term sustainable success.    People who have demonstrated ability to work across functional lines and international borders will often find success as expats in China.

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5)  Don’t Bring the “English Only” bias

An English-only expat is the most unlikely person to attempt to learn
a new language when living abroad.  Anyone who has studied a foreign
language knows attempting to converse with native speakers is a
humbling experience, but even small successes in foreign language
communication are thrilling and reward all the hard work.  People who
only speak English and consider foreign language “unnecessary” are
frequently more likely to be narrow minded in other areas of expat life, and demonstrate either a lack of respect or indifference for the country they have chosen to live in.  It’s not that the expat needs to speak fluent Chinese!  The point is that posting any bi or multi-lingual person to China is more likely to have a person with the right cultural outlook for expat life, and they are more likely to pick up some Chinese as well.

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(6) Learn about China before you come
If you company is providing you with cross-cultural training, make sure you take advantage of it.  If they are not or if you are coming independently, make sure to take our online course on “Living and Working in China” before you arrive.

Sharing the moment

by Margarita

These are the kinds of moments that help keep the stress and frustrations of being  a solopreneur at bay and I just had to share it with those of you who are not members of the LinkedIn group where this was posted!

I announced the upcoming Culture Mastery 4 C’s Process™ licensing/certification and received an amazing testimonial in a comment from one of the previous participants:

“I can’t recommend Margarita’s training enough! I’ve done it and regardless of all my experience and knowledge, it gave me a different insight into how to approach my training programmes. Relevant, pertinant, interactive, useful, and enriching. Margarita was a great facilitator and the other participants really took part and shared. Personally, since I did her training I have reassessed my programme contents and presentation and my clients love it!

No, Margarita didn’t ask me to post this, this is a real feedback…I used a lot of what we discussed in the course just yesterday, for the first time ‘live’ , with MBA students wanting an insight into intercultural management. I was able to demystify the theories, make it relevant and apply it to their professional lives. Must have done a good job because I’ve been invited back! Thanks M! (Helen Le Port of HLP Training)

Thank you, Helen!

So if you are a solopreneur and sometimes feel that it’s always uphill and never downhill — think of these moments and remember them!

If you want to use the Culture Mastery 4 C’s Process ™ with your clients, the next licensing/certification is taking place on December 1 & 8, 2011 via a webinar.  The early registration discount is only until November 24 — so sign up now!

Expatriate vs Immigrant – what’s the difference?

by Margarita

Recently an interesting discussion took place on the Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Success Facebook page – when do we consider ourselves expats and when are we immigrants?  So I’ve decided to try to explore it and I thought we’d start with a dictionary definition.  According to Miriam-Webster:

  • the word “Expatriate” is actually a verb or an adjective and means someone “living in a foreign land”.
  • the word “Immigrant” is a noun and means “a person who comes to a country to take permanent residence”.

If we go only by these definitions above, I see one major distinction that sets them apart.  Immigrants have an intention to stay – whereas for the expatriates this intention isn’t mentioned and isn’t clear.

Put another way, immigrants may have a larger emotional commitment to their new place of residence – and, thus, their approach to making it is different.  If expatriates know that they can always leave and they know it coming into the country already – how much effort will they try to put into… (a) finding ways to belong; (b) creating connections, (c) absorbing new ways of being, (d) making life-long friends, etc, etc, etc?

Everyone is different of course and I am not stating that temporary assignment expats don’t have the commitment to create the best life they can in their new country.  Yet, I think, the knowledge that they can always leave creates a degree of comfort that “if it doesn’t work, it’s okay because three years from now I am leaving anyway.”  Immigrants don’t have that luxury.

What do you think?

 

And in case you are interested, we just unveiled our #Re-Discovery #Re-Create #Re-Join Workbook and Guide based on a recent workshop that offered strategies and tools for women embarking on the re-discovery journey. First 30 people who download this guide will get a free one-0n-one coaching session! To find out more and to download, visit here.

 

Why Study Abroad?

Guest post by Anthony Garcia

Study abroad is an experience that can greatly enrich any student’s education. Like any opportunity, however, it is important to make sure that you get the most out of it. If you are traveling solo for research, or in a group of students from your university, it is up to you to make sure your trip is the best it can be. Determining what you want out of your study abroad trip and considering cost and location can help you do just that.

Not only does studying abroad make it significantly easier to learn a foreign language and gain fluency, but travel will immerse students in the culture of their location, broadening their horizons and teaching them in ways that a classroom setting cannot. The benefits of study abroad are long-lasting and widely-recognized. In 2006, the U.S. Senate published a resolution to support study abroad programs in the U.S. educational system, citing the need for a larger population of globally-aware American citizens. Time abroad helps students make connections outside their comfort zone, improving cultural awareness and independence. Practically, students who travel learn the leadership skills vital to success.

So long as the location and program are appropriate to the individual person, study abroad can benefit those who are in college, high school, or even younger. Deciding which study abroad program is right takes some investigation.

First, it’s important to make sure you are working with a reputable company. Those run by colleges and universities are typically a safe bet, while there are many privately-owned companies that specialize in sending students abroad. Another option is to enroll directly in a school overseas, but that takes more research and may not be possible in all locations.

Whatever company or organization you decide to work with, make sure you do the research thoroughly ahead of time. The company should hold up well to scrutiny and be able to answer any and all questions you have. They should be exceptionally knowledgeable about the countries they send students to and should be able to help you apply for a passport and student visas. The company should also direct you to any health precautions you should take before leaving, such as vaccinations and travel insurance.

Once you’ve found a company or program you want to work with, it’s time to decide where you want to go and why. What do you want to study? Art, politics, science, history, languages? Would you be more comfortable in an urban area or can you handle being in the country? How long do you want to be gone? What can you afford to do?

It is also important to consider the history of the place. Cultural and political history can give you a host of possibilities for study, but it may also place some challenges on studying abroad. These challenges can be positive ones, such as language and cultural differences, but learning about those differences will help you be comfortable once you get to your destination. Staying open to learning new aspects of history and global issues will also help you make the best of your trip overseas.

There are many scholarships and grants available to students for studying abroad, but they may not cover everything, including the costs of passports, visas, transportation, and food. If you can afford a set program cost on your own, you need to double-check what it will cover and budget accordingly. Costs will depend on where you go and how long you stay, but talking to other students who have been on the planned trip can help you get an idea of what extra money you might need.

No matter what it might cost you or what hoops you have to jump through, the benefits of studying abroad are well worth it. Both tangible and intangible, these benefits will last students a lifetime. Studying abroad is a truly enriching experience for any student.

About Anthony: Anthony recently completed his graduate education in English Literature. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture.  He also writes for Online Graduate Programs.

Creativity and Cross-Cultural Ties — is there really a connection?

In a recent BNET blog (5 Ways to Foster Innovation) Kimberly Weisul says that:

“Roy Chua, of Harvard, believes that creativity is not necessarily about coming up with something totally new. Instead, he says, “most often it is about connecting ideas to create something different. If you have a multicultural social network, you are more likely to receive ideas that are different.” Chua surveyed a group of media professionals about their social networks, and then asked each to brainstorm about the future of the newspaper industry. A group of outside judges ranked the ideas based on how creative they were, and it turned out those professionals with ore multicultural social networks came up with more creative ideas. Chua conducted a similar experiment with college students, surveying their social networks and asking them to come up with a new advertising campaign for a fruit drink. Those with more contact with different cultures came up with more creative ideas.”

Now we’ve heard before that moving to another country and becoming an expat encourages creativity just for the simple reason of being in a different environment and being exposed to new perspectives.  By the same token, cross-cultural interactions and connections do the same job of exposing us to different perspectives and ideas.  But what’s our role here and who do we have to be to actually become more creative?

There are a couple of traits I think are very useful in taking advantage of your cross-cultural ties when it comes to becoming more creative:

  • Open-mindedness – if we are closed to new perspectives and ideas, no amount of them around us will help;
  • Courage – new things can be scary and taking them on can be even scarier;
  • Curiosity – digging deeper is part of adopting something new.

What do you think?  What other traits can be helpful here?

Want to take advantage of this opportunity to become more creative and productive when working across cultures? We have a couple of openings for executives who want to improve their intercultural competency.  Our individual cross-cultural coaching program is based on Culture Mastery 4 C’s Process™ — the program that helps people build their cultural competency.  For more details please visit here.

A coach or a trainer? Want to help your clients improve their intercultural competence?  Get licensed to use Culture Mastery 4 C’s Process™ in the upcoming webinar.

Turning points

Guest post by Louise Wiles

What have been the main Turning Points in your life?

If you, like me have relocated abroad a number of times then you will without a doubt have faced a number of Turning Points.

When Kate Cobb the editor and creator of Turning Points challenged me to write about mine I was intrigued by the idea. She asked me to think about one time where I had used a Turning Point as a springboard to creating something new in my life.

A Turning Point is a “point in life when things go wrong or life takes an unexpected or challenging turn”. At these points we can embrace the change, learn from it and move forward OR fight against it, struggling to maintain our fragile status quo, attempting to live as if the turning point hadn’t occurred.

My Turning Point originated from a number of factors all coming together at the same time. The specific details I will save for you to read about in the book! I’ll just say for now that a relocation abroad and the challenge of creating a new life in that new location formed a big part of my Turning Point.

Mobile expatriate living is all about recreation. It provides the opportunity to experience new and different ways of living within different cultures. It’s often viewed as a great opportunity and embraced as that by many who relocate frequently. However this positive side is often accompanied by challenges:

  • Living in a culture different from our own will perhaps cause us to question our personal beliefs and values. We may find that some of our personal beliefs and values are in conflict with those of the host culture and this can be a source of stress and discomfort.
  • However much we are excited by the opportunity to move abroad, there is always an element of sadness as we leave loved ones behind. At these times the emotional impact of our ‘goodbyes’ can be tough to handle.
  • We may find that our personal identity is challenged. Moving away from social networks and roles in our old lives that helped to define us can leave us feeling becalmed, uncertain of which direction we should now take.

These and other challenges are all derived from the Turning Point and it is down to us to determine which direction we now take. I know I drifted for a number of years in previous relocations. My Turning Point inspired me to start taking active decisions about how I could move my career forward abroad.

And as I have done so I have learned so much.

This quote by Aldous Huxley sums this up very well:

“Experience is not what happens to man, it is what a man does with what happens to him”

You can read about my turning point in the Turning Points book which launches on November 1st. You can also read about twenty four other women’s amazing, and at times shocking but always inspiring stories.  But the book is not simply about their stories. The book is also about the learning that they gained from their experiences and how they now use that knowledge to guide, support and help others. It is full of advice and tips for turning lives around.

Go and visit my Turning Points page here.

You can buy the book and then claim three wonderful gifts with my compliments.

Also you can visit The Turning Points Launch page here.

GCC blog: In addition to contributing to what looks like a fascinating book, Louise is also our co-creator of the “Living and Working in the UK” online course.  Thanks again, Louise, for offering your support and offering to share your experiences with other expats!