Managing Expectations

So did you hear about the employee who must be granted every exception they request as he / she is the only one that could possibly do that job in that location?

Expat Academy Managing Expectations  Sadly there is no punch line but it does induce the same amount of eye rolling from a GM professional as a joke that can be found in a cheap set of Christmas crackers. I’m sure many of us have heard that line from the line manager or HR business partner.

I once had an assignee who had a 5-bedroom spacious house in Houston, US and was moving to Hong Kong. He insisted to his manager that he should be able to stay in an equivalent property in Hong Kong with a large garden. The line manager thought it was a perfectly reasonable request! Except Hong Kong isn’t renowned for its wide flat open spaces when there’s more than 7 million residents spread over 427 square miles.

And so the battle begins to bring the assignee into line with policy and stop costs sky-rocketing. Unless there is an absolutely fundamental genuine case for an exception, they should be refused for one of the following very good reasons:

  • Different treatment of assignees in the same location will always come back to haunt you. Assignees are notorious for comparing packages not only internally with their peers but externally within the local expat job market.
  • Over time the policy that you so carefully reviewed, and painstakingly benchmarked, no longer provides the framework for supporting an assignee on assignment. It becomes the starting point for negotiation. Specifically individual negotiated packages are hard to administer and errors can occur at salary review time or later on in the assignment.
  • If the business is provided with a cost estimate and sets the budget on that, any additional exceptions can send the costs sky rocketing as it’s not only the cost of the exception to be considered but also the tax cost of the exception.

So, ignoring the genuine cases for exception (such as additional temporary accommodation due to shipping delays, additional education costs to help find the right school for a child with special needs etc), how should Global Mobility stop the exception conversation before it even starts?

Fundamentally it comes down to managing expectations and below are a couple of top tips to consider:

  • Educate the line managers so they understand the policies or at least that they need to speak to Global Mobility first before promising the assignee anything.
  • Increase Global Mobility’s profile within the organisation. Whether it be virtually by having the Global Mobility policies readily available on the company intranet, regular updates through the intra company newsletter / internal communication channels or face to face through Global Mobility roadshows.

It’s also worth considering that in a technological world where we are all doing more for ourselves via apps and self-service, shouldn’t the policy information be easily available on the company intranet for people to find? If the Global Mobility team has seen several queries or potential exception requests is it worth having a FAQ document alongside the policies? After all, some of the exception requests come about because of a lack of understanding of what the policy does provide. We live, breathe and talk Global Mobility but for the line managers and assignees, coming to this for the first time, it can be seen as an acronym laden, jargon infested minefield!

Are you starting out on the Global Mobility route yourself or know of someone within your organisation that deals with expats and struggles with the acronym’s, jargon and understanding of the assignment life cycle? Then why not join us at our next GloMo Training – Essential Global Mobility on 27th November 2017. Click HERE to book your place.

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