Whether you are hurtling into the festive season at 100 miles an hour, with the rest of your Global Mobility team, as pay review is well underway, or you are quietly hoping to be able to wind down as your expats head off for their festive break – it is amazing to look back at what the team has achieved in 2017.
What the Global Mobility team goes through in a year is phenomenal. Not only has the day job kept everyone busy but I am sure the team have had their fair share of dealing with the Global Mobility seven dwarfs – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Bashful and Sneezy!
How many of them can you recognise in your assignee population?
Doc – these assignees can be a tough bunch. Excellent at what they do, hence the reason for them being sent on assignment but when it comes to Global Mobility a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. They often believe your offers of assistance are beneath them as they are intelligent people and know it all because they’ve ‘been before’, had friends or colleagues that have been or have found all the information they need online. For these assignees, you need the patience of a saint and the ability not to say ‘I told you so’ when they suddenly realise Global Mobility is far more complicated than just physically relocating someone or there has been significant changes since the last time they went on assignment and actually they should have paid more attention in the assignment briefing.
Grumpy – You can move heaven and earth to have all sorts of exceptions agreed, have the most amazing package for them to go on assignment and absolutely nothing is good enough. You know they will go on assignment as often they have been before but, boy, will they give you a hard time about it. They also have a habit of playing the ‘Do you know who I am?’ card. A card which, in my view, is never necessary to play when you are someone within the organisation that everyone should know! This assignee requires a large smile and thick skin so as not to take their comments personally.
Happy – when these assignees cross your desk they are a gem to deal with. They appreciate all the help they are receiving. Most importantly they listen to the advice they are given, get clarity on anything they don’t understand and reply promptly to the emails you send. At the start of assignment, they return the signed assignment letter back to you swiftly, respond to the immigration vendor quickly with all the information and documentation that is required and work well with all the other vendors. They are happy to provide mentoring to other assignees and should you get the chance to meet them in the office they greet you like a long-lost friend regardless of the grade differential. These are the ones you want as the future line managers with their own assignees. Assignees like these are a delight and reinforce your belief in yourself and the team that you all do a darn good job.
Sleepy – these assignees can be rather painful as they have no sense of urgency. They must always be chased for information such as signed letters, signed build ups etc. Everything is left to the 11th hour. It does make you question how they actually manage to do their job as clearly they cannot be that inefficient in their role otherwise the organisation wouldn’t be investing that much money to send them on assignment. Not only do you have to exercise utmost patience when dealing with these assignees, it also requires a creative flair when sending the 5th email or leaving yet another voicemail chaser asking for the same information. As clearly ‘Please return your signed assignment letter urgently so we can initiate the immigration vendor’ somehow doesn’t quite have enough urgency for them to respond.
Dopey – in a previous role, the team I worked in suggested (in jest of course) that the GM function should be allowed two veto cards a year where GM have the right to veto an assignment before it even starts. Many an experienced GM professional has worked too may late hours in scooping up the mess or trail of destruction left by these assignees and could therefore spot them a mile off!! Rarely are the slip ups intentional they just seem to lack a certain level of self-awareness or sensitivity to a new situation. One such assignee went on a back to back assignment and there was a handover email from one HR contact to the new HR contact with a final comment of ‘Good luck – he’s all yours now!’ Some of these assignees are cultural dinosaurs which can often result in an irate phone call from the local HR within a matter of hours of them arriving in the host location as they have managed to offend most people within the office during the initial team meet and greet!
Bashful – The true definition of bashful is a reluctance to draw attention to oneself. Now while this type of assignee may be a rare breed you may meet the odd one or two. Often, they can be similar to Happy as they are a delight to deal with as they don’t like making a fuss and are super grateful for all the help you give them. However sometimes, because they don’t want to mention something or cause too much of a fuss, they omit to tell you something that is vitally important and it leaves you facing a large rework of an assignment calculation or inadvertently costs the company way more money than originally anticipated.
Sneezy – the assignees whose medical situation falls outside the day to day and routine medical issues covered under the International Medical cover. These can be tough to deal with – not because of their personality but because medical issues can be very personal and require discretion, compassion, adaptability and practical support that may go outside the normal remit of a GM professionals job description! To make it harder it can sometimes be an emergency which requires the planned To Do list for the day to be abandoned.
How ever many of the Global Mobility seven dwarfs you’ve had to deal with this year I hope they will shortly be off enjoying the festive season and will allow you and your team to put your feet up, enjoy a well-earned break and a glass or two of festive spirit for a job well done.