Managing Relocation Anxiety

Blog Post Enabling Successful Change

One of the advantages global organizations have is the ability to tap talent from far-flung places and bring them to headquarters. This increases idea and knowledge-sharing, creates a more diverse work environment, and brings new ideas into the mix. And no matter how good technology gets, in-person meetings are still more effective than virtual ones.

What is the less good part? Someday, it will be your turn. I was recently in that situation, relocating from London to Philadelphia. Excited about coming back to the city of my alma mater, it dawned on me that I had three weeks to move a life–mine, incidentally–across the pond.

So, what can you do to ease the pressure? There are a lot of pieces written on easing the stress of executive relocation before it happens. Creating lists, making sure everything is perfectly coordinated, ensuring–if you are moving with your children and spouse–that they have schools and jobs ready, finding a house, hiring movers, shipping boxes or slaloming around Heathrow with four giant suitcases are just a few ways to reduce the stress. Likewise, there are a lot of pieces written on managing cultural shock in the new location. But what I want to focus the rest of this piece on is the first day in the new location. Being “the new kid on block” is fine on your first day. But how do you manage “being the new kid on the block” on the days that follow?

It all comes down to the corporate culture of your organization. As a reminder, corporate culture is the particular condition in which people perceive, think, and, interact, and work within an organization. It shapes what decisions and actions are taken within the enterprise. It is whatever behavior is reinforced within the organization.

So, what kind of behaviors are reinforced within your organization? Do you have to always get it right? Be invincible? Figure it out on your own? Well, the bad news is that you will spend a lot of time figuring out where the bathrooms are located.

The good news is that corporate culture is propagated, reinforced, accessed and managed, through the conversations that are happening within the organization. So, arm yourself with the courage to be vulnerable and maybe you can start reinforcing within your organization the behavior that making mistakes is okay, necessary at times, and that vulnerability to better oneself is desirable. Most importantly, you can perpetuate the behavior that pride is an enemy and that, no matter how long you have been in your organization, you can learn from the people around you.

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