Bidding as a Family
Posted by Beth Payne on Monday, July 11th 2016
The 2016 bid season is just about to begin and for those of you bidding on your next assignment, this will be a stressful time as you maneuver new bidding rules, struggle to understand all those unspoken rules, and try to find a posting that meets all of your professional and personal needs. Bidding can be even more stressful on a family since each family member’s needs and goals add more complexity to selecting your top bids. Do you choose quality of schools over career priorities? How heavily do you weigh the availability of meaningful work for a spouse? How much does pollution or disease impact your decision? Should you consider an unaccompanied tour?
If your family will be directly impacted by your assignment, it is very important that you set priorities and make bidding decisions as a family. When family members perceive that their goals and needs are not being considered, this can cause resentment that erodes familial resilience. This makes the move to a new post even more stressful and slows the adjustment process for family members. Here are some tips on how you can ensure that you are bidding as a family.
Identify your goals for your next assignment as a family. List all of the goals each of you have, both personally and professionally — each member’s needs should be identified and noted. Then, work together to prioritize these goals finalizing your list only when you reach a consensus on family priorities. As a family you may decide that one member’s goal needs to take priority over others for this move, but the decision should be reached as a family.
View the bid list with goals in mind. For every job on the bid list, identify which of the goals that assignment would meet. Focus on your high priority goals and don’t get distracted by posts that seem great but don’t meet your goals. If you find yourself rethinking your goals, explore why. If you’re convinced you selected the wrong goals, go back to step 1 without thinking about specific posts and re-select your goals.
Keep everyone involved. Discuss each possible bid with the whole family, so that everyone knows what the possibilities are. Not only will such transparency avoid unpleasant surprises, but it can build excitement for the unique attractions of each post. Imagining multiple possibilities can be fun, relieving the stress of the unknown. Having something to look forward to with each bid can also help with the next item.
Manage expectations. There may be the perfect post on your list that meets all of your high priority goals, but are you going to get the job? Hopefully you will, but make sure everyone in the family has realistic expectations and understands that you may not get your first choice. Managing disappointment can be challenging – focus on the positive aspects of the outcome rather than what you’ve lost.
Be grateful. Once you have your new assignment, encourage every member of the family to write down what they are grateful for and looking forward to in the new assignment. Revisit and revise these lists as you prepare to move to your new city. Six months after you arrive at post, review the lists again and make sure you’re taking advantage of all the things that excited you about the posting months before you arrived.
Visit Beth Payne’s blog Fostering Resilience.