by Gina Tonic
Those of us who work in Global Mobility (GM) already know that you have to be adept at many different skills. Such as being organised, having attention to detail, problem solving, a great communicator, being flexible (“yes of course I can do that call tomorrow”, even though it’ll be 7am my time), culturally aware, able to juggle multiple tasks, having financial acumen, keeping up-to-speed with the latest happenings in tax, immigration, social security, hardship locations – the list goes on (and on, and on).
Like most HR functions, as a GM specialist you also need to be a “people person” sometimes this comes easily; at other times it takes extra effort (“yes of course I’ll explain to the apartment providers that it wasn’t your fault the ceramic hob cracked when you dropped something on it. By the way, did you not think to use the protective cover that is provided?”).
A deeper relationship understanding
One of the things we do have to do is to delve into the prospective assignee’s personal life. Well, not too deeply. After all there is such a thing as too much information! However, we do need to know about their relationship situation for various reasons, some of which will hopefully become apparent from the following experiences.
I can remember a case several years ago where we had an assignee going to Singapore from the UK with his wife and child. Quite a long way down the line we discovered that she wasn’t actually his wife. He was still married to the mother of the child (i.e. a different woman). His current “wife” was also pregnant. This created all sorts of problems. Did the mother of the child give her permission for said child to go and live in Singapore? Turns out she did (Phew!). Would the current “wife” be able to be added to his medical insurance whilst they were in Singapore? Obviously with her expecting this was a critical question and it turns out that the answer to that was no because they weren’t married! (Argh!)
If we had delved into their relationship earlier on in the process, we could have avoided a last-minute panic that actually resulted in a cancelled assignment and a lot of unhappiness on all sides.
Suitable hat for a summer wedding.
So, recently I did a briefing with a guy who is going on assignment to the USA with his partner and 2 children. All sounded pretty straight forward until we got to discuss the immigration piece. After delving into his personal life it turns out he and his partner are not married. Not a problem from a GM policy point of view. We recognised unmarried partners. However, US visa law does not; therefore a partner or fiancée is not eligible to apply for dependent visa status. His partner was not planning on working whilst in the US, so would not qualify for a visa in her own right.
Hmm. “So, ever thought of getting married?” I asked, wondering if I had a suitable hat to wear to a summer wedding.
Luckily, it turns out they had been thinking of it and a wedding was quickly arranged and the assignment will be going ahead.
I am now wondering about a change in career and perhaps becoming a wedding planner. Surely my finely honed GM people person skills could come in handy for dealing with bridezillas?