Elena Darmenko

Expat Psychotherapist

Professional Adaptation.
Do Employees With a "Global-Local Mindset" Work Better?

Creating a global-local mindset is a key to a successful professional adaptation
If you decide to build up or develop your career abroad, or even start a portable business, it may become a challenging, but exciting experience. However, relocation is usually followed by a professional adaptation. Following I'll give you some tips and lifehacks which I've found helpful from my professional experience as an expat psychologist and a location independent counselor.

Working For the Same Company, But in Another Country

Same, but different. This usually surprises people, as they expect the same corporate culture and ethics. However, the organizational structure of each branch of a multinational company, is seriously different due to the local traditions and work norms. So, one of the most common reasons of an overseas assignments fail is that assignees are unable to adapt successfully to a local business culture.

Our Cultural Background Shapes Our Behavior

The place we've grown up, socialize and start our careers, in other words – the place we call home, as well as our culture, influences how we perceive other people and the way we interact with them. There was "developed a set of "psychological tools" that predetermines how we interpret different situations and the way we behave. It is called a "mindset". However, when people choose a globally mobile life, they consider themselves as "citizens of the world" having a "global mindset". This global mindset, when well-developed, goes far beyond a usual desire to better understand different cultures.

While a global mindset can be applied to both individuals and companies, it's usually defined as having a purpose of finding a balance between a global efficiency and a local culture, as well as a transfer of knowledge.

However, nowadays technologies continue to break the geographical barriers, and companies are required to move their focus to the new markets. Which, in its turn, present some new challenges. So, this vast business geography, different cultures of leadership and workforce, innovations technologies require a new type of mindset, which is called a "global-local mindset".

What Is a "Global-Local Mindset"?

In short, it's a type of mindset, blending the best international practices with relevant local traditions, norms, and business culture. It enables companies to succeed in a world which is rapidly becoming more interconnected. This principle allows to develop local business mindsets and understand how they can interact with a global vision and mission of the particular company, and how to make the best of this interaction.

Developing a Global-Local Mindset

Developing a "global-local" mindset is crucial for a successful professional adaptation. As an expat you know that adaptation starts before you move to a new country. So, it's important to be involved in programs that expose you to new cultures and diverse populations. The aim of these programs is to overcome the most common stereotypes, which is the first, but important step of a professional adaptation. This may sound simple, especially if you're an experienced expat, but it usually takes a lot of time. If it's possible, try to find a good mentor or a "cultural interpreter" who will help you to develop your global-local mindset skills, showing you advantages and special regional opportunities.

A special cross-cultural training will be also helpful. You just need to remember that your purpose is to become a successful in a culturally sensitive environment. So, try to find trainings which include not only an understanding of diversity and cross-cultural differences, but are also focused on areas where misunderstandings are more likely to occur and how you can avoid them.

What You Can Do to Develop a Global-Local Mindset Abroad

If you relocated and don't feel comfortable on your new workplace, if you can't successfully interact with your local colleagues, if you feel less effective and productive than before, here are some tips you may find helpful.

- Ask questions to your local colleagues. I call this an "intellectual curiosity" and it's a great toll for expats. The reason is simple: the more interest you express to the local norms and culture – the more open people become. And this also gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn culture in a non-confrontational way.

- Learn the local language. This is also a matter of respect to the local culture, and it's the first advice I give to my clients. Try it and you'll be surprised how important to have a private small talk in local language, even if you use your usual business language in the new job.

- Accept and respect the difference and diversity. From my experience, this might become the most difficult step towards developing a global-local mindset. You may find some cultural norms and traditions strange, and it takes time to accept them. Try to learn what's behind these traditions, it will be helpful.

- Be ready to challenge yourself. The strategies you used in your home country may not go over well in the new culture. The more flexible and open-minded you become – the more success you'll gain.

Professional adaptation in a new cultural environment is a quite long process. However, keeping your mind open to any new experience, challenge, and adventure, you'll be able to get the most of career opportunities abroad.