• Norma Davila, Ph.D., CPRW, CPCC, SHRM-SC

Meeting the Needs of Families During Relocation

5th in a Series | Voice of Experts


In this blog series, we are talking about the effects of relocations on families. We have already described today’s different types of families, shared specific examples of how families are reacting, and what can make relocations easier. We also introduced some challenges and barriers that families face as well as what they can do to overcome them.


Responding to clients' needs and tailoring the overall coaching approach to meet those needs adds a layer of customization and comfort to the relocation experience. Laura Bidegain, Sally Anne Carroll, and Patti James, REA coaches who are supporting families, shared some of their insights about what they do to meet those unique needs.


Let’s look at some examples of how coaches adapt to clients’ communications preferences, interaction pace, and scheduling requests. We will also see examples of topics that coaches discuss and the resources they provide.


Communications Preferences

Laura Bidegain asks clients about their preferred means of communication to engage in quick conversation and follow up. She uses phone calls, emails, or WhatsApp messaging to stay in touch.


Coaches will flex to meet their client’s needs. For example, some coaches use videoconferencing to communicate with their clients if that is their preference and comfort. Other coaches refer clients who prefer to communicate in their first language to those coaches who share the clients’ first language.


As coaches communicate with their clients, they find out and respond to how often they like to interact. Coaches also tailor each contact’s goals based on clients’ choices. Furthermore, coaches use this information to proactively communicate with clients to support the action plan that they created collaboratively.


Interaction Pace

Patti James adapts the speed of how she conducts the coaching process according to what her clients need. She guides her clients to take small steps forward so that they feel that they are making progress toward their goals.


Other coaches encourage clients to express the topics that they would like to discuss. This sense of urgency is important because clients often perceive that they cannot control many aspects of their lives.


Families sometimes also are juggling health challenges, natural disasters, and delays in work authorizations. Thus, coaches are sensitive in determining when the best time is to provide services and, if necessary, postpone service delivery until clients are ready. Sometimes, as Patti acknowledges, clients primarily need someone who truly listens to them.


In general, coaches have flexibility/availability in scheduling calls and messages to answer questions based on each family’s needs.


Scheduling Requests

Laura optimizes the impact of her connection with her clients by programming sessions around their schedules. For example, she plans calls around school/childcare hours and trips to the family’s home base even if this means weekend availability.


Laura has found that an accountability buddy is valuable and welcomed during the relocation. Thus, she sends weekly gentle reminders to encourage spouses and partners to make time to focus on themselves and take action toward their goals.


Clients often have multiple requests and topics to discuss so the coach clarifies expectations and priorities within the scope of their coaching relationship as Laura and Sally Anne mentioned.



Examples of Topics Discussed

Laura and Sally Anne emphasize the value of online and in-person networking for family acclimation and career opportunities. Laura brainstorms with spouses and partners about how to make that human connection at the new location and answers questions such as how do I reach out to people and what should I say? She also facilitates pathways for at least one initial informational interview/conversation with a resident of the new location so that clients start connecting and getting comfortable reaching out to others on their own.


Sally Anne shows clients that their relocation may require more flexibility, agility, and creativity than they may have expected initially. She co-creates with them a customized relocation support plan which may include exploring new interests and career options available at the new location. She also works with clients to assess how their social connections and childcare/family routines will change after the move and the potential impact of these changes on the timing and type of their job search. Furthermore, she gives them space to accept, understand, and manage the variety of emotions related to their careers.


Access to vetted information and resources is critical for relocation success.

Resources Provided

Coaches identify and provide customized information. For example, Laura provides information about the new interests of family members. Sally Anne connects clients to other sources of support and encourages their use. Other coaches curate lists of products and services that clients need for their businesses such as specialty stores that sell materials to create one-of-a-kind items.


If you relocated before, did you work with a coach? If so, how did your coach facilitate your relocation? If you did not work with a coach…


Let’s pause. You don’t have to handle the relocation by yourself!

A professional career coach can help you in several ways, including:

  • Creating a safe space for you to express your emotions

  • Asking questions to prompt your thinking so that you can make better decisions

  • Focusing on your current priorities when they shift after an unexpected event

  • Knowing when to step in and when to stay in the background

  • Reaching out to a network of coaches for additional information and resources

REA’s coaches specialize in assisting professionals and their families to address these issues and many others. You don’t need to navigate your family’s relocation alone -- we’re here to help! Check out REA Flex Coaching services to help you get a jumpstart on your path to a successful relocation!


Coming up next in the last blog of this series, in The Voice of Experts, several professional career coaches who work with families in their relocations will share examples of relocation success stories.

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