Coaching for Expats and Spouses

How to succeed your expatriation

The Coaching for expatriates and spouses helps to manage the different changes before, during and after an expatriation. It is an effective support to help you to integrate faster to a new culture and to a new life (sometimes in the same country).
For the employee expat, the coaching helps to maintain or to boost their optimal performance level, to adapt their leadership style into a new organizational culture and to develop action plans to integrate the various aspects of the new life.
For the spouse, it accelerates their adaptation without losing their identity, it helps to better manage their daily life and it helps to define a personal or a career project.
The coaching is not just a support during complex moments. It can also help you to reach the next level you want in your life.
Everyone benefits from this support: the expats, the family, the company. A coaching journey is a nice way to take care of ourselves and the ones around us and to create the best possible ambiance to live the best of the expatriation.

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» Société Stela Klein Coaching

Stela Klein Coaching Company

Stela d'Escragnolle Klein – Executive & Life Coach
69001 Lyon, France
Spoken languages:
English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese

Expert advice

What advice is given by other expats?

According to a research I have done with expats of different nationalities, here are the advice they offer to succeed in an expatriation:

• Learn at least the basics of the language as quickly as possible. As a person with hearing problems may be isolated from the world, the lack of a minimum use of the local language causes the same effect;

• Do not be ashamed of not speaking fluently the language of the country. If there is one thing that makes anative happy is to see that you are trying to communicate in their language. People are usually nice when they see it. Furthermore, if you do not train daily, you will not be able to develop a certain communication level;

• Get out. Go to the market, try an outfit (even if you are not sure to buy it), go to the post office and to the bank, sit on a bench in a square. By observing the habits and behaviors of the population and starting the interactions, little by little you start to understand better how everything works;

• Ask a lot of questions. In the streets, find out how to get to a particular place, ask what to do to get the loyalty card from a store or how to prepare a dish with a vegetable you've never seen. In addition to helping you with your vocabulary, you socialize;

• Search for groups of expatriates. There are many in the world. Other expats are the primary source for tips that will make it easier for you to transition, since they have already been through the discovery phase and initial difficulties of adaptation. But be careful not to fall into the trap to leave the local language aside and use only yours;

• If your family could rely on the services of a relocation / mobility agency, which helps you with the transition, check whether the package includes intercultural learning sessions or coaching meetings, cultural sightseeing and detailed descriptions of public health systems, public transport, driving licenses and other useful structures in the city;

• Use home services if you need it. Don't try to do everything by yourself. In some cities, there are companies that offer cleaning services, babysitting, small repairs, support for elderly people, etc.

• Volunteering. Volunteering in the community creates links and makes you feel useful;

• Invite people recently met for a coffee. At home or in a bar, it doesn't matter. Exchange of experiences and information creates support links and even friendships;

• Communicate at home. Do you feel alone or anxious? Consider sharing your feelings with your children or your spouse. Tell them what you would like them to do to help you go through this period more calmly. If you communicate it in an objective and positive way, they will not necessarily feel guilty or worried. Hiding feelings is very unproductive, since this action can trigger other feelings and the consequences are far from positive;

• Make people know you. If you have a work permit, plan your networking. In many countries, it is common to find part-time jobs, if you prefer them;

• Develop interests. Either if you can work out of home, or you can't (or don't want), you can develop new hobbies, volunteering, studies or any activity that gives you pleasure and allows you to be productive. This creates goals and provides a sense of utility. If you prefer, start a little coaching journey to identify your talents, values, needs and define action plans to make a faster transition.

And finally, a very important element: don't try to recreate the house you had before. This is impossible, because the conditions are now different (and that does not mean that they are worse). The sooner you accept that many things will be different, the faster you will open up to better adapt to new situations. Who tries to reproduce their previous life, suffers and loses opportunities for evolution.

Why is it common for the spouse to feel guilty when he / she does not work during expatriation (or has a part-time work)?

I'll share with you my own experience, once I followed my husband when he was expatriated. In the first few weeks out of my native country, my agenda continued to be as full as in my previous job: in addition to coaching meetings with clients, there was also a million tasks to be done in order to put the house in order. I wasn't stopping for a second. Little by little, with everything on place, I won an amount of free time I have never had. Besides being able to learn the local language and manage the time zone to make my coaching meetings, I began to have free time to do a lot of things.

My days continued to be filled and busy, but with a range of daily activities never experienced before: I cleaned the house, studied the country's language, made a philosophy coursework, did the coaching meetings, visited museums and other tourist spots. On the one hand, it was a dream life. On the other, I started to feel guilty.
While I could manage my time and activities as I wanted, my husband had the same rigid routine I knew so well. While he used to come home tired and upset from work, I was there, calm and fresh. When he used to tell me about a tough meeting, I was ashamed to tell him that I had visited a very interesting place in the city.

Fortunately, this discomfort did not last long. I started asking myself the reason why I felt guilty. I enumerated the work I was doing (as a housewife and as a coach), I acknowledged how I handled my time. I accepted that, yes, in my new way of living, I could have some free time in the middle of the afternoon, go out for a walk, come back home and continue to work and it was fine like this. It was good for me and it was good for my husband who would not be worried about me, since I felt good with the life of expatriates we were in. This change of thought made sense for me and then I was able to reorient my mental model and really enjoy every minute of my new life.
Little by little I knew women whose husbands were also expatriates or who experienced professional mobility. Almost 100 % of them lived or were living moments identical to those I experienced, or even worse: beyond guilty, they felt empty, lost, sometimes without 'identity'.

What are the usual topics discussed during a coaching journey for expats and spouses?

For the expat employee:
. Performance at work
. Creation of an action plan for the first 90 days
. Communication with colleagues, team and boss
. Adaptation of their leadership style
. Management of cultural differences
. Image / reputation creation
. Difference between high performance and burnout
. Time Management (work and home)
. Delegation of tasks inside the team
. Networking within the company

For the expat spouse:
. Creation of an action plan for the first 90 days
. Integration options
. Identification of new interests
. Next steps in career
. Creation of CV, motivation letter and presentation pitch
. How to establish networking
. Time management
. Evaluation and prioritization of different project options
. Definition of a personal project