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China: Expats’ Family Matters



China is a very interesting country but for most transitioning employees it is a hard country to live and work in.  An executive’s success does not only depend on how well adjusted he or she is in the new environment but also how well adjusted his or her family is.  According to Betsy Neidel, a senior facilitator at Cultural Awareness International, the primary cause of assignment failure in China is a result of failure of the family to adjust. Ms. Neidel has authored an article on the subject entitled “Transitioning Key Executives to China.”  In her piece, Ms. Neidel explores common issues families face, solutions that employers can provide, and ways to tailor training to make it more effective for expats participating.

ChinaIn her article, Ms. Neidel identifies three variables that can make it difficult for families to adjust to life in China:

  • Relocating to lower-tier cities
  • Family transition issues
  • Shifting family roles

Most companies take steps to help make the transition easier for their employees and their families. Three of the most important relocating services to focus on:

  • The inspection trip – this is where the living environment is explored.
  • Language training
  • Cross-cultural training

In order to have a highly effective transition program one must consider:

  • The company’s primary business objectives – establish top-level business-aligned objectives that the executive is responsible for. Should include metrics to measure performance, as well as a timeframe for accomplishing goals.
  • The transitioning executive’s role – the over-arching goal of the transition plan is to ramp up an executive’s ability to conduct business in the least amount of time.
  • The context of the Chinese operating environment – a company must break down top-level objectives into actionable steps and identify how these steps would be done differently in China.

Each transition program will be different of course, depending on the specific situation but each successful program retains common elements such as support from senior management and business-aligned transition objectives.

The executive’s strengths and weaknesses must be assessed for a successful transition into China and to meet specific objectives. Using information from the assessment and identifying skill gaps is key to meeting specific goals. One example given by Neidel is an executive may have to use a different communication style to motivate Chinese employees than the style used with employees in the USA. Finally, an accountability system can be used to keep the executive on track and to bolster the transition program.

To read Betsy Neidel’s complete article, visit: http://blueheron8.com/wp-content/mediafiles/2012/02/Jan-Mar_2012-Neidel-Transitioning.pdf

For more information on Cultural Awareness International’s Destination Services and Cross Cultural Training, visit: https://culturalawareness.com/services/