The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: Handbags at Dawn

by Gina Tonic

Expat Academy The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: Handbags at Dawn Dear Diary,

Sometimes I forget that as a Global Mobility Manager my role actually sits in the world of Human Resources and apparently, according to the CIPD, “HR professionals (amongst other things) help to shape the culture of their organisations, and focus on what keeps their colleagues productive and engaged.”

So, with this in mind, I recently decided to take a little time to brainstorm how my colleagues landing in London on assignment could become more productive and engaged with my help.

Here were my top 3 thoughts;

  1. Must cost nothing – I have no time to build a business case for new things.
  2. Must not take up too much of my time – I need to get home on time a few nights this week. I must go to the gym and eat like a goddess for the next month.
  3. Must make assignees happy – Happy assignees = Happy me.

Genius plan

Seemed simple enough. I paused to make myself a brew and then “Eureka” it came to me…… I decided to introduce a Spousal Buddy scheme. This was genius, I’d buddy up incoming spouses so they could make friends, help each other settle in and free up our assignees to get settled into their new roles and become productive at work super-fast.

Of course, this was only going to work if I had families coming from similar home countries at broadly the same time. I looked down my list and there they were… two families arriving from the US, within a week of each other. Both had kids, both assignees worked in the same function and the kids were all due to go to the American School.

This was a dream come true! I speedily rattled off e-mails to both wives and advised them that we were launching a pilot spousal buddy scheme and I asked whether they would be willing to participate.

The responses pinged into my in-box within 24 hours. They were thrilled to be selected and couldn’t wait to meet each other. One husband even took the time to send me a note thanking me for my high touch customer service and setting his wife’s anxious mind at ease about their daunting move to the UK.

Wow, who knew making your assignees happy was so easy? It really is the little things that count.

Full speed ahead

I initiated the DSP, who contacted both ladies to arrange a suitable date to go house-hunting and then I cracked on with the rest of my long “to do” list.

House hunting day arrived and after warm introductions the ladies were whisked away in a swish chauffeur driven car and escorted around London for the day with a short stop for a delicious afternoon tea. Feeling proactive, I checked in with the DSP regularly as the ladies perused the finest London rental properties and the reports back were very positive. They were like long lost friends and were getting along famously. That is until……. they arrived at what can only be described as a scene out of either Paddington or Mary Poppins and both instantly fell in love with the same house!!

There was a sharp change of mood, which escalated into a full on row on the doorstep about who should take precedence should they both decide to make an offer on the property. #awkward

What started out as a match made in heaven turned rather sour when ultimately one of the ladies “pulled rank“ and eventually secured the house due to her husband’s seniority in the organisation.

Misty crystal ball

Oh my, if only that Global Mobility crystal ball worked a little better and I hadn’t tried to be so kind and introduce them.

I’ve decided not to be put off though. Two huge lessons learnt are:

  1. Don’t ever send assignee wives out house-hunting together
  2. Do encourage them to go for afternoon tea together…they loved that bit!

Best to keep the buddying to activities that don’t involve any competition with each other!

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