GROVEWELL’s Cross-Cultural Adaptation Coaching

GROVEWELL’s Cross-Cultural Adaptation Coaching

When the professional field of cross-cultural services got its start in 1960, its main goal was to improve the adaptation and effectiveness of individuals living and working in unfamiliar cultures. That goal was pursued through programs in which a trainer presented to a group of expatriates, or to an expat couple, information about the host country’s culture, and about cross-cultural adaptation.

GROVEWELL got its start in 1990 as a provider of cross-cultural services. We soon realized that our field’s training approach was missing an opportunity to treat expatriation as a strategic opportunity for not only the expats themselves but also their teams and companies. That missed opportunity was to develop global-minded leaders.


We noticed that other cross-cultural consultancies were providing coaching, but that their approach was what we came to call “Training for One” (or for one couple). Relying on pre-determined content and processes, they were using set activities believed to help the trainees gain awareness of what they needed to know to succeed in the new culture. But simply enhancing the awareness of expats was missing the opportunity to develop global-minded leaders – to expand each one's global leadership repertoire and global mindset.

So at GROVEWELL, we committed ourselves to provide a service with global strategic value to our coachees and corporate clients, not a commoditized product. To this end, we reconfigured our service delivery into a flexible, customized “coaching approach.”

Our cross-cultural adaptation coaching balances providing relevant cross-cultural information with coaching that addresses the expressed and unexpressed needs and desires of the individual or couple. Our coaches address challenges of a personal, cultural, developmental, business, and global leadership nature, weaving all into a complex tapestry that yields deep cognitive and emotional learning.


Most of our competitors make sure to use a trainer or coach with some experience in the target (host) country. GROVEWELL has significantly higher standards:

  • Our coaches are experienced leadership/executive coaches who have both lived and worked in the target (host) country for a substantial period ending within the past few years.
  • Occasions do arise when GROVEWELL’s locally available coach lacks substantial, recent living and working experience in the target country. In these cases, the coaching program is delivered by our local coach together with a local “resource person” who does have the extensive host country experience that we require.
  • GROVEWELL’s coaches must have had living and working experience in at least two countries – many have global experience far in excess of this minimum – and almost all are at least bilingual.
  • Before engaging any coach, we obtain references from three of his or her former coachees. We do everything we can to determine that a candidate is an outstanding human being, with varied life experiences and a capacity for warmth and caring.
  • GROVEWELL applies an intensive, hands-on approach to insure that our coaches fully understand and are capable of delivering, up to our standards, cross-cultural adaptation coaching. Partner Willa Hallowell trains each coach who is new to this role, and provides continuous support and thought-partnering, especially in cases in which the expatriate or a family member presents special challenges.


Our learning objectives for each expatriate and (if any) his or her spouse or partner are:

  • To develop or augment their cross-cultural and self-awareness, including learning to notice but not immediately judge cultural differences and similarities;
  • To enhance their cross-cultural competence, including their ability to interact socially and professionally with members of their new organizational and national cultures;
  • To expand their capacity to learn how to learn on their own so that, following our coaching, they can continue to adapt and begin to thrive in their new environment.

AND for the children of expatriate families between the ages of 5 and 19, we offer Youth Coaching in several countries. Please ask us for more information about this option.


Our process objectives for each cross-cultural adaptation coaching delivery are:

  • To take a coaching approach, that is, to remain highly flexible so that, in the moment, the conversation can be redirected and customized to address the expressed and unexpressed needs of the coachee(s);
  • To culturally calibrate ways in which we sequence and convey the content of our cross-cultural coaching, including knowing how to develop a trusting relationship with coachees from diverse cultures. (This is NOT “one size fits all.”)
  • To rely on the experience and life-honed wisdom of our coaches, whom we put forward to the coachees as knowledgeable guides who are role-models of cross-cultural adaptability, and who embody cross-cultural competence and a global mindset;
  • To identify and address any issues that may become barriers to the professional and social success and satisfaction of the expatriate and family members, including those that are out of their conscious awareness (but are recognized by our experienced coach).


GROVEWELLprovides an internally developed, 60- to 80-page manual, specific to the host country, for each cross-cultural adaptation coaching engagement. In no way is our manual intended as a curriculum or agenda, but rather as a set of resources and discussion prompts that aid and support our coach’s flexible, coachee-focused approach.

The Learn More button, above right, will bring you a timely response from GROVEWELL partner Willa Hallowell.