December 18, 2017

Taking the Pulse of International Assignment Success Through Increased Intercultural Support

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Taking the Pulse of International Assignment Success Through Increased Intercultural Support

Posted by: Diane Mullen, Intercultural Coach and Manager of Cartus Intercultural Academy

I often think back to my international assignment to Amsterdam in the early 2000’s with both nostalgia and regret. Nostalgia for all the people I met and the experiences I had, and regret because of the things I wish I had done and never did. 

My biggest regret was not learning Dutch. Certainly, it is a hard language to learn, but I like languages and must admit that it was the perfect opportunity to learn Dutch. While I have lots of great excuses as to why I didn’t learn the language, the truth is that expat assignments go by very fast, and the challenge for every international assignee is to accomplish their definition of assignment success during the two, three, or four years of their time in a host country.

I have often wondered, if I had received more support once I was living in Amsterdam, beyond our cross-cultural program, would I have more actively pursued learning Dutch? 

Enhanced Cross-Cultural Training in the Host Country

Increasingly, Cartus’ Cross-Cultural Program participants have been asking for ongoing coaching support once they have arrived in the host country, or when they have had more time to experience living in the host country. We heard things like: “I wonder if an additional ‘optional’ training can be offered after the assignment has started,” and “it may be appropriate to have a follow-up as part of the transition period.”  

This made complete sense! So we listened to our international assignees and enhanced Cartus Cross-Cultural Programs with the addition of our Assignment PulsePointSM coaching session. This is an exciting and unique supplement to the cross-cultural support experience that will reconnect the Intercultural Coach with the assignee and spouse for a personalized coaching session focusing on their specific priorities, thereby extending the program’s benefits into their post-arrival transition period. 

Cartus Intercultural Coaches have welcomed the opportunity to continue working with their assignees once they are in their host countries. Using Cartus’ proprietary coaching framework, along with powerful questioning and classic coaching tools like the 10-point self-assessment tool, to determine where they are currently, and where they want to be, our coaches are challenging international assignees to accomplish their assignment goals in three important areas of their lives: personal, professional, and family. I can only imagine where my Dutch skills would be if I had a coach asking me: “What is your strategy to learn Dutch? What resources do you need to make this happen? What’s your timeframe for starting your Dutch classes? What obstacles could get in your way?”

What Can Cartus’ Assignment PulsePoint Do For Your Assignees?

The implementation of the Assignment PulsePoint coaching session has been a huge success, and the international assignees we work with are telling us of its value and benefits to them. One international assignee commented, “I feel like I’ve already accomplished something. Even though it has been tough, the coaching call has motivated me to keep moving forward.” And another stated, “It was nice to discuss the progress we have made, and also be reminded of certain commitments we have made so as to keep us motivated on goals we had set.”

Maybe if I had benefited from additional coaching once I had arrived in Amsterdam, I would be speaking Dutch today, or at least be conversational, and that would have supported my success with other assignment goals, like establishing stronger relationships with local colleagues and neighbors. Our goal is that our international assignees will not have to wonder, and instead of regrets, they can celebrate their own successes for their international assignment.

For more information on intercultural support, and other matters that impact your relocation program, be sure to visit our Resource Hub on, or email us at

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Posted By

Diane Mullen

About Diane

Diane Mullen is Manager of the Intercultural Academy for Cartus. She delivers cross-cultural training programs to Cartus clients around the world. A fluent Spanish speaker, she has worked, lived, and studied abroad, spending a total of 15 years in the Netherlands, Chile, Spain, and Venezuela.

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