Global Mobility Advisors (GMA) play a critical role in the relocation process. Their responsibilities include providing information and guidance to transferees, but also ensuring that the terms of the relocation program are respected, and related costs are contained. To use a circus act analogy, it’s a combination of getting the right types of plates up on sticks at different intervals, keeping all plates spinning at various speeds, anticipating falls, and being able to fix or get a new plate back up if one does fall. At the end, the audience should be satisfied with the act and happy to move on to the next one.
What complicates the “spinning of the plates” is having to manage the journey to one common goal (i.e., moving the employee to a new location) but for two separate audiences. When the relocation process kicks off, transferees focus on their own personal agenda; their primary concern, understandably, is themselves. The corporation, meanwhile, is striving to meet its operational and financial objectives while ensuring that the benefits offered cover their “duty of care” responsibilities and provide enough support to satisfy the transferee/family. It’s up to the GMA to help the transferees navigate the process and manage their expectations, but also ensure that they are in the right frame of mind to start work at the destination. The GMAs should be agile enough to adapt communication to the personality types, family dynamics and anxiety levels at play.
So, keeping all the above in mind, what makes a GMA stand out in a crowd of GMAs? Most do the job competently, but we’ve found through our years of experience that those who shine are extremely skillful at doing the following
– Are empathetic, leave the transferees feeling that they’ve been heard. From the outset, they make the extra effort to understand concerns expressed. They carefully explain the benefits available along with the purpose of the program in the context of their anxieties (that means what it will do and what it won’t do). The GMA will combine various means of communication to ensure the transferee fully understands the program, the process, timing implications and where to access all available resources.
– Are highly responsive. They maintain frequent communication with the transferee, ensure that someone is always there for them, connect on a personal level, and instill a high level of trust.
– Are proactive. Anticipate needs or possible problems and plan accordingly to avoid or mitigate any negative outcomes.
– Can explain diplomatically, firmly, and logically what is unreasonable or not possible, as well as the rationale behind those decisions.
– Are decisive and able to reason with the transferee. Are empowered to proceed within a certain range of discretion or can explain with authority the purpose of the escalation process and when a decision can be expected. This reinforces the credibility of the corporation, the program, as well as the GMA.
– Relying on deep experience, respond quickly and provide reassurance during emergencies. They are in constant contact to alleviate anxiety and can foresee or explain how the situation will be resolved. It is critical that global mobility teams always be accessible and include highly experienced members who can confidently say what everyone in crisis wants to hear: “It’ll be OK.”
No matter how brilliantly the GMA performs, unexpected events will still occur, and “plates will fall”, but a highly competent and responsive advisor will have made the experience less stressful and will have left the transferee with the sense that their relocation was handled as best it could, as opposed to feeling that they were let down.
In summary, an outstanding global mobility advisor, acting within the relocation program framework, gives the transferee/family the confidence that their well-being is important and prioritized, and to the corporation, peace of mind that the transferee will be satisfied with the process and the support received, and ready to focus fully on the job at hand.