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A Case for Relocation Coaching

relocation coaching

Relocation can be a mixed bag. At the beginning of the process, there’s uncertainty that  begs order, a plan and clarity. Anyone who has experienced this can relate to the following  conversation: 

‘And it’s a wrap, time to pack and move! Move to where?’ That was the beginning of an  adventure that uprooted one’s roots from their place called home. Where is home? 

Well, that’s a question that invites an emotive conversation. While there’s those that have  never moved from their region of birth, there’re those that travel and get back, then  there’re those that disconnect then return to reconnect, and some that permanently  disconnect. Each of these have various definitions of ‘home’, with valid reasons why. 

Responses such as: ‘home is where the heart is’; ‘home is where you are welcome’; home is where you are welcome for all you are , warts and all; ‘home is where you never left’,  and many more, speak of the various types of connections we make with the place we  call home. 

It’s on this basis that relocation coaching comes to offer psycho-social support. This is  because, there are numerous reasons for leaving home. These include studies, such as  undergraduate or graduate studies, corporate assignment expatriation, diplomatic posting, security assignments, safety reasons such as seeking asylum for life protection  amongst others. The above speak to both positive and negative reasons why relocation  happens. 

All relocations despite the trigger factors require support for the change to be  sustainable. For the relocations that are positive in nature, the support is planned, and  the intended outcomes outlined. The excitement of positive relocations can be a veil that  covers the unknown acclimatisation journey of the new environment and culture, both at  home and work. The settlement period can last anywhere between 6 – 12 months, with  life not taking a stand still moment to allow this to happen. So one finds themselves on  the move in the pre-determined rhythms of their new land in a desperate attempt to fit in.  In the everyday negotiation in the new life, there are compromises that one cedes to, both  knowingly and unknowingly. 

The critical inflection point for the perceptionally positively-induced move, is when the  ebb and flow of life begins to eat into the true identity as one slowly disconnects with their  true self. Questions such as , ‘how did I become this?’ ; ‘when did I start doing this?’ imply  a discontentment of habits practised, albeit unknowingly. These habits may have been  picked from the culture of the people in the new land, in an attempt to integrate and gain  acceptance in a new community. A little later into the months or years and one begins to  detest the person they have become as they don’t recognise the micro habits that they  picked along the way.

For those who it was relocation of fight or flight for life, it’s a shock life transition. While  the subconscious brain is working hard to manage the pent-up trauma of escape from  danger, the conscious brain has no time for such reflections. The individual finds  themselves working hard to settle, integrate though hesitantly at first due to their  circumstances, but nonetheless they will permeate through the new culture. Triggers of  the past may be a hinderance to acclimatisation process and tend to spill over to the new  environment. They also camouflage the authenticity of relationships that would be  beneficial to the settling.  

When the mind can no longer form new strong neurons for thriving but relies on survival  chords, the problem-solving strength is weakened, which deteriorates to lack of  willpower to survive. The downward spiral may be mental illness which debilitates life. 

However, there are coping skills and mechanisms that support both the positive and  negative induced relocations. At the onset, none of the reasons should serve as  assumptions for lack of psychosocial support. This is because acclimatisation in a new  culture takes a ‘sine curve’ movement, with high highs and low lows until stability is  achieved in the course of time. Lack of proper preparation and continuous reflection may  lead loopholes of knowledge gaps. 

As such, pre and post relocation coaching is pertinent to offer mindset change to each  individual experiencing the move, whether in the office or home set up. Each individual  even if in the same team connects with change in a different manner, based on their own  personal life circumstances as well as their emotional and psychological make-up. There  cannot be a broad brush to manage psycho-social needs of different human beings, at  their different stages of life. For example, a lady and a gentleman expatriate have different  needs, so do their needs family needs. Additionally, pre-teens and teenagers in a family  have different needs in a relocation season which have to be considered. 

Decisions of choices of locations to relocate can affect the uptake of the assistance  offered. If there were options yet there was need for compromises during decision  making, the normalisation of life in the new environment can prove to be an arduous task. 

There are also seasons in one’s life that certain locations for life’s changes could either  be a make or break for a team’s member, home or work. It is during these reflection  moments of coaching that evaluations of the impact a relocation decision can be  analysed prior or the aftermath of. 

Such continuous assessments such as in the lives of diplomatic family members or  expatriates of global organisations creates an internal mental muscle of strength to  survive and thrive in any environment. In view of the 21st century skills, the ability to  adapt to various kinds of life’s situations and in this case environments, sets one apart  from the rest of the world. The social nature of the mankind implies that the process of  movement from one location to another involves disconnecting to connect or reconnect 

with human beings. Equally, the generational nature of human life is that one generation  learns from another. This transfer of knowledge is what justifies the passing on of  information and knowledge through relocation coaching, from both challenges and  successes.  

Njeri Lucy, Relocation Coaching, Lucie Consultancy, Nairobi, Kenya.


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