Archive for July, 2017

Navigating The Six Zones Of Repatriation

July 26th, 2017

For those of who have navigated the return journey of living and working overseas, you will know that sometimes it can feel just plain tough. Whilst the experience of returning ‘home’ is often not all bad, most of us are caught by surprise at just how many ‘little’ things can actually unnerve us or catch us unaware. The idea of navigating any form of lag time outside of jetlag just didn’t seem to occur to us and yet it is something that catches both individuals and the organisations that they work for by surprise.

As the demand for leaders with a global mindset continues to grow, the prospect of living and working abroad continues to remain a valuable opportunity for businesses and individuals alike. However all too often the benefits fail to fully materialise for both parties due to the difficulties experienced in navigating the return journey ‘home’.

For organisations these difficulties often result in the departure of key talent, which represents an enormous loss in ROI with knowledge, experience and relationships walking out the door. For individuals the lack of opportunity to reconnect purposefully on both a professional and personal front often translates to disengagement and frustration.

Positioning repatriation at the front of the global talent mobility cycle is critical if we are to ensure employees and their families return confidently. The Brookfield 2016 Global Mobility Trends Survey recently found that only 10% of organisations surveyed reported that the role of the global mobility function was aligned with the wider talent agenda and actively engaged in workforce planning and people effectiveness.

There is no doubt that this disconnection is hurting both businesses and individuals. As organisations recognise and actively work to build a pipeline of future leaders with global experience, how they support and integrate the personal and professional needs of an individual during the return phase will ultimately determine how strong their pipeline remains.

Successful expats grow not only their core business knowledge and skillset whilst away but also their personal perspectives. More often than not they return with different attitudes and views looking at the world through a different lens. Ultimately they return different people. To assume that they can and will simply ‘slot back in’ is dangerous and often costly.

Just as the physical journey home invariably requires individuals to cross often multiple time zones, so to does the repatriation journey. To reduce the lag time associated with these zones, organisations need to ensure that their repatriation planning pays attention to each area that individuals find themselves having to navigate.

The six zones of repatriation

Physical: Regarded as the base line of support, most organisations are well equipped to manage this ‘zone’ effectively through partnerships with outsourced mobility partners and interim accommodation providers. Ensuring that this component is not just part of the initial assignment phase but also the homeward bound journey though is essential.

Financial: Given that most people don’t move in tandem with the financial or tax year, offering tailored financial guidance is critical to helping individuals and their families’ kick start their lives back ‘home’.  Foreign bank accounts; managing off shore investments; navigating compliance formalities and simply shifting finances home all require timely advice.

Business: With significant business changes – be it in structure or people – often occurring whilst the expat has been off shore,  a ‘re-boarding’ process is strongly advised. These programs need to reflect any key market, political or relationship changes that may impact the way in which the employee may carry out their role.

Career: For repatriates the number one frustration with their return is the lack of meaningful opportunity to leverage recently acquired knowledge, skills and experience. Whilst robust career planning should occur prior to the assignment commencing so that realistic expectations are established, it is vital that career planning is made an integral part of the returning phase.

Social: It is not uncommon for individuals to experience and enjoy the connection of a tight knit expat community whilst off shore. For many, returning ‘home’ is an intensely isolating experience that can significantly impact the level of fulfillment and engagement in the work place. Welcome home events, internal mentor programs and repatriate networks that include spouses and children are proven strategies to help support social reintegration.

Emotional: Whilst stress and anxiety are a well-known side effect of any move, it is often most under-estimated on the journey ‘home’. When the so-called familiar no longer feels that way the emotional impact can be overwhelming. Understanding some of the key triggers and the subsequent support offerings should be a critical part of any employee well being program.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.


Margot BLACK Signature



What’s Your Career Leverage?

July 18th, 2017

‘Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand, and I can move the Earth’
– Archimedes

Failing to leverage what we currently have is costly. All too often it costs us time, opportunity and ultimately our ability to maximize our own success and fulfillment. In a time, where we are constantly being asked to do more with less; respond nimbly and confidently to large scale change; and get ready for greater levels of disruption, knowing how to best leverage our knowledge, experience and networks is vital.

Essentially leverage allows us to take what we have and make it go much further. It is gained by knowing what levers we have to pull in order to elevate our current standing.  As leaders all have levers and ‘tools’ in our own career, business and network that we can pull on to help us gain ground. The key is working out exactly what they are and how to best pull on them and when.

Ritchie Norton, founder of Global Consulting Circle, a corporate growth consultancy says that ‘attempting to succeed without embracing the tools immediately available for your success is no less absurd than trying to row a boat using only your hands or trying to unscrew a screw using nothing more than your fingernail’.

Ultimately not embracing the tools at hand impedes our growth. As business leaders our most valuable ‘tool’ is our people. How we tap into the talents, motivations and capabilities of our people is our ultimate challenge. We need to ensure that we have the right people, in the right place at the right time if both organizational and individual growth is to be realized. As businesses continue to face the challenge of navigating increasing complexity, speed to market and global reach this is no easy feat and requires both alignment and connection to strategy and people.

As individuals we need to ensure that we have an accurate view of what our own knowledge and ‘tools’ are and what we need to invest in to ensure that we remain relevant and aligned with the organisations that we work for. If we don’t we can all too easily find ourselves stuck not only in our roles but in our careers.

So what can you use today as way of leverage in your career? I would encourage you to consider the following six points:

  1. The business of you: In order to effectively leverage your experience you need to be crystal clear on where your core skills, strengths, achievements lie and most importantly how they are regarded. Just as a business owner is responsible for the management of their business assets, you are responsible for the management of your career assets.
  2. Position: Know what your position affords you as way of influence and also how to best position yourself as way of building it to enhance your professional regard and that of your team, peers and networks.
  3. Strategic alliances and networks: Consider the knowledge and talents of those within your networks and also the opportunities and potential that could be afforded through collaborating with others.
  4. Current opportunity: All too often it is the ‘next big thing’ that distracts us when really what we need to do is focus on nailing the opportunity we currently have. The reality is it is what we do today really counts! It has the power to consolidate and propel us forward or backwards based on what and how we deliver.
  5. Digital footprint: Whilst our digital profiles are often used to validate who are and our previous history, there is an enormous opportunity to use it to position ourselves as industry experts and the businesses that we work for as market leaders. Offering enormous influence it is essential that we learn how to proactively create and use it so that we remain in control of how we are positioned and regarded.
  6. Investments:  Time, money and effort are all resources that we need to ensure we are investing wisely in. Ask yourself the following questions:
    1. Am I making the most efficient use of my own time and that of others? Do I need to delegate / assume ownership of certain areas?
    2. Are there any educational qualifications, short courses, networks or coaching programs that I can invest in to help me operate more effectively?
    3. Have I go the right structure in place to maximize the knowledge, talents and skills of my team or do I need to invest some time and effort to review?

The key to leverage is in knowing what we have in our own tool kit as way of supporting both our own opportunities and those around us. Our preparedness to reach out to others in a genuine and purposeful manner when we are in need and conversely to give to others when they also do so will allow us to truly leverage our capabilities and future successes as well as those of the people we lead.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot BLACK Signature

Why Career Agility Is Your Competitive Advantage

July 10th, 2017

“Success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react and reinvent”

– Bill Gates

We all know that we are living in rapidly changing times but this was really highlighted to me last week when hearing how knowledge is currently doubling at a rate of every 12 months with this soon to be every 12 hours. Navigating that sheer volume of new information and more importantly letting go of what has become obsolete seems like an almost unfathomable concept.

There is no doubt that planning for future business needs has therefore become more complex. Not only are we navigating unprecedented volumes of new knowledge and levels of change but also the very way in which we work is being reshaped. With new technologies emerging almost daily, how we communicate, collaborate and make decisions is significantly impacted. We have people remaining in the workforce for longer, greater diversity than ever before and now find ourselves operating and responding to a more globalized economy providing unprecedented access to new markets and talent pools.

With many roles and job titles today in danger of disappearing altogether and those of tomorrow yet to be defined, there is also a new challenge we all face in how to best manage our own careers. How do you plan out future career paths when the very nature of what we do, how we do it and where we do it is rapidly changing around us? Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha, authors of The Start Up Of You note that building long term career success requires individuals to consider themselves as entrepreneurs and their careers as a start up business.  In qualifying this they say that ‘ the skills that start-ups require are the very skills that professionals need in order to advance their careers: nimbleness, personal investment, strong networks and intelligent risk taking”.

To do this we need to embrace and develop the skill of agility. Without it we can all too easily become stuck. Stuck in our thinking, ways of working and in roles that fail to see us grow. When we become stuck we can all too easily lose our relevance, impact and confidence.

It is widely recognized that agility enhances performance in activities that require a quick change in direction whilst maintaining the core elements of balance, speed, strength and control. It leads to faster response and can easily provide significant competitor advantage. Often associated with sport, it is considered one of the main components of fitness and consequently forms an integral part of training schedules.

It makes sense then that it should form an integral part of establishing our own career fitness. Not only does it help improve current performance but it also helps ensure that any sudden change in direction – such as redundancy, promotion or career shifts – are navigated with relative ease and strength.

Given that agility is built on strength and co-ordination it is imperative that we gain clarity on what our core strengths are: what knowledge, skills and styles do we have to leverage. We then need to understand where we best fit: where we can co-ordinate our skills and knowledge with those of others. I would also encourage you to consider the following five actions for creating career agility:

‘Think global, act local’: Whilst this saying was originally used to heighten environmental awareness, it is very apt for our careers. We are working in an increasingly globalised world that is responding to change, disruption and connection at a global level. Our role is to be aware of it so we can leverage and apply it with relevance and confidence to our own careers and positions.

Remain informed: Navigating any form of change requires us to be informed of what it is. Too often we look ‘across and down rather than up and out’ and as a result our awareness outside of our immediate world is diminished and therefore limiting. It is important to be informed of relevant industry trends; interesting collaborations and market announcements.

Take considered risks: Low risk is often associated with stability. However it has been suggested that in the long term, continually opting for the low risk options leads to increased vulnerability as it reduces our resilience to deal with sudden and high level change.  ‘Playing it safe’ with your career can in fact create higher risk through an inability to cope with the volatility and rate of change which is all to common in the market place today.

Invest in learning: With the constant change happening in our workplaces and industries you can never assume that you know all there is to know about managing your career. Invest time to acquire the right intelligence and know-how that will accelerate your career. Consider what projects, opportunities and courses will build, stretch, leverage and maximise your knowledge, skills and style.

Create diverse networks: Invest in the right relationships and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and identify a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them. Build a networking plan that fosters authentic professional relationships where you can also offer valuable contributions.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Margot BLACK Signature


Developing Mobility Mindsets

July 4th, 2017

“An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention”

– Dr Steve Maraboli

As we continue to navigate unprecedented periods of change, movement is inevitable be it at a global, national or organisational level. Given that mobility is fundamentally about movement, how we help employees to navigate it is vital to both individual and organisational success. Movement however has long been associated with stress because it is about change so how we set about normalising it is critical. Creating mindsets and frameworks that support individual agility and team cohesion during these periods is key if business rhythms and outcomes are to be maintained or enhanced. Without them, we risk becoming stuck in silo’d ways of working and thinking.

Whilst mobility has long been associated with global movement, today’s business reality sees the demand for mobility much closer to home. With business merger and demerger activity and organisational and team restructures happening more frequently than ever before, employees are now expected to seamlessly move from one structure to another against a backdrop of uncertainty and complexity. The price of doing business in our capital cities continues to escalate seeing many businesses shifting operations to regional locations, in turn requiring individuals to relocate if they wish to grow their career with current employers. Internal mobility programs have taken on new importance, as employees no longer only seek to grow their careers in a linear path. Where once individuals progressed up the rungs of the corporate ladder, many of today’s employees are seeking to grow their careers by moving in different directions around an organisation. Coupled with the rise of the remote workforce, the demand for ‘mobility mindsets’ has never been higher. Building these mindsets however is no easy task as it relies on a true partnership rich in trust, commitment and transparency from both parties.

In The Four Building Blocks of Change, Tessa Basford and Bill Schaninger’s discuss how positive mindsets and behaviours are built when individuals see their leaders model the skills required to navigate change; understand what is required of them; are able to apply their skills and knowledge confidently to their new role or area; and are well supported by the structures and processes for what they are being asked to move to. In asking people to let go of something familiar and more often than not appears to be working, there needs to be a high degree of belief and support to navigate the unknown, break ties and invest in the energy required to successfully move and change.

5 Tips to Building Mobility Mindsets:


  • Share the vision – In asking people to move, they need to know why. When people understand why, they are more likely to embrace change, look for solutions when the inevitable challenges arise and inspire those around them by doing work they believe in.    
  • Make movement normal – To normalise movement, we need to talk about it and share ‘whole’ stories that highlight the successes, challenges and ways things have been overcome throughout the cycle of change and movement. Too often the stories stop once the change has been announced or someone has moved out of a team, office or location. We need to be highlighting how movement has benefited individuals and the organisation at large on a regular basis.
  • Understand that movement affects everyone – Even if you’re not the one doing the moving, the subsequent changes will still carry impact. Team dynamics, roles and responsibilities, relationships and ways of working can all be significantly impacted with even slight movements.
  • Make the process of movement easy and familiar: Given that people invariably move in all different directions within an organisation – up, down, sideways, in and out – the ease in which people do significantly effects efficiency, engagement and productivity. When people know what to expect, they will invariably buy into the process of moving faster and with greater ownership.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: As with nearly every element of business success, communication is the key. Unexpected movement can all too see individuals and teams being blindsided and on the back foot, where as individuals, teams and organisations that are ‘in the picture’ are better equipped and motivated to deliver on what is required.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below,


Margot BLACK Signature

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