During a recent conversation with a client, the issue of relocation came up and she wanted an opinion on whether taking up an international assignment was a good opportunity for her. I donâ€™t think there is one definitive answer to this question, it depends on a number of factors, but I do see it being very relevant in our increasingly globalised world and worthy of discussion.
In my mind there are three fundamental factors to take into consideration for anyone in the position of deciding whether or not to relocate.
The first factor is which stage of life are you at, as well as your family situation. It is much easier to move if you are early in your career and do not have any major commitments. Similarly, if you are in a later stage of your career you may have greater flexibility and freedom to make an international move. However, if you do have a partner and/or a family then it is imperative to reflect on the impact that a move would have and whether the family dynamic is able to adjust to it.
The second factor for consideration is your motivation, if it is intrinsic, extrinsic or both. Does the relocation offer you the opportunity to learn and develop yourself? Or is the relocation a promotion which offers a bigger responsibility? It is useful to consider that when working with any global organisation, any international exposure is undoubtedly of benefit. The flip side however is, that in the ever-changing world of business, there is no guarantee that your old role will still exist when you return and in your absence your network may be significantly weakened. In terms of your career, the experience of working in a foreign environment provides numerous benefits. It broadens thinking, helps you build an international network, teaches resilience, persistence and how to deal with things outside of your comfort zone. These contribute to being a better leader, individual and human being!
The third factor is what type of individual you are. Are you adaptable and do you love challenge and change? Can you manage with ambiguity or do you prefer the comforts of home and familiarity? Additionally, some countries will be easier to adjust to whilst others may be very challenging, this is another aspect to factor into your decision. Taking these points into consideration is an essential part of making the decision to relocate.
Going back to my discussion with the client, having had this conversation her choice was to accept the relocation. As it was a 12 month assignment, it offered a great experiential opportunity which I am certain she will enjoy and will broaden her perspective.