Setting the right expectations to communicate with Line Managers effectively
As a Mobility professional, you know that providing an exceptional experience for your mobile employees is a team effort. Within the organization, Mobility needs to take the lead, of course, but ideally the employee’s Line Manager (or direct supervisor) is involved as well.
Like you, Line Managers want the best for their employees. Unlike Mobility, though, Line Managers might promise service levels and benefits that just aren’t supported by the employee’s relocation benefit package. Similarly, Line Managers might be tempted to answer questions from the mobile employee that are best left to Mobility.
Mobility and Line Managers need to speak with the same voice – especially on high-level matters in an assignment related to timelines, benefit options and housing; not to mention issues like immigration, taxation and remote work that can lead to serious compliance violations if not handled correctly.
The way to get to this single voice is to make sure Line Managers understand Mobility’s function and value. They need to know the scope of your work, specific areas of expertise that you offer and the kinds of mobile employee questions that you’re able to answer and that should be referred to you.
At a recent insideMOBILITY® region virtual forum, Global Mobility leaders shared their proven methods of how to proactively communicate with Line Managers to set proper expectations. Here are the six best tips we distilled from those discussions:
- Communicate face to face: A dedicated meeting helps build trust and familiarity. Several of the participants described how they travel once or twice a year to the business unit’s regional offices to make sure people put a face to the emails they receive from Mobility.
- Communicate regularly: Place yourself on internal agendas at the regularly scheduled meetings of stakeholder groups – either HR or the business unit. Several of the attendees publish internal newsletters with compelling information about employee assignment success stories, talent Mobility success stories, regional developments and expat team activities.
- Communicate using data and analytics: One person at the session increased visibility and business impact internally simply by reporting on expat status, but there’s so many more levels of data you can and should be collecting, analyzing and then sharing proactively – like cost trends, assignee performance levels and satisfaction levels.
- Communicate with case studies and stories: It’s often very effective to explain the value of global Mobility programs in terms of challenges you solve and problems you avoid. One participant pointed out that it’s also helpful to share a hypothetical story about what could happen if a housing or financial matter is not handled correctly.
- Communicate with answers: It’s best to discuss a challenge with a Line Manager (or any stakeholder) regarding their projects or specific mobile employee’s situations with transparency and options. Describe the implications to the company and then offer solutions along with a helpful perspective on preserving the employee experience or avoided costs.
- Communicate about policies and benefit tiers: We heard from several attendees that it’s not unusual for Line Managers to want to please and impress their new employees or newly assigned employees with unrealistic descriptions of relocation support. One session participant described how a Line Manager at the executive level – who had received a generous housing benefit – essentially told their employee they could expect the same on their assignment.
Be Visible. Be Valuable. And dare we say it again?… Communicate
Remember that your goal for interacting with Line Managers is to prove to them that you’re an ally and a strategic partner. Don’t be marginalized. Demonstrate your strategic value. This is an opportunity for Global Mobility to increase its visibility within the organization as a valuable subject matter expert.