Tag Archives: culture

Guest post by Brooke Faulkner

An international assignment to Japan is one of the most rewarding achievements you could reach in business. Nothing feels better than to be wanted overseas for your talents and your accomplishments.

However, most of us, unfortunately, have a habit of acting culturally unaware when we visit new places, especially if we don’t have a lot of interaction with diversity within our home country. While that’s a broad generalization, it happens enough for us individually to be aware and check ourselves before traveling overseas.

I want to focus on business in Japan specifically right now because there is a lot of room to do international business with them. According to Alliance Experts, alternative energy, gaming, music, engineering, and healthcare are all fields thriving in that country, as well as ours.

Combining forces can be a really good thing. However, when you enter someone else’s home, you need to be aware and respectful of their way of life.

Careers in project management are highly sought after in the Western world right now, but to be a project manager in Japan requires cultural awareness, good communication skills, and a willingness to learn. For this reason, I want to cover some basics for those of you heading over there soon to manage projects. Stay ahead of the cultural curve so things go smoothly, and you’ll find yourself in a much better situation than if you hadn’t been able to!

Navigating Culture

Workplace culture is very important, and that can be hard to navigate even more so in a new country. The importance of respect transcends cultural differences. However what’s considered respectful and what isn’t changes from place to place.

For this reason, it’s important to know a little bit about Japanese culture before you get to Japan, especially if you, as a team manager, are working with and managing new people.

For some guidance, I pulled some information from E-Diplomats and Business Insider, who point out some cultural differences regarding workplace conduct and respect in Japan. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Business cards are often used the way Americans use handshakes.
  • Group work shows no pride in different members: you’re all in this together.
  • Treat your employees like their work is important, and show as much pride in your work as they do in theirs. Pride in your work and efficiency in the work process are very important. This is roughly translated with the word “shokunin.”

You can check both resources for more information, but workplace respect doesn’t stop at workplace specific differences — not by a long shot.

Communicating Past a Language Barrier

Body language is of the utmost importance when traveling to a new country. This is especially true if there is a language barrier like there probably is if you’re a typical white American. For instance, Japanese culture tends to be less touchy than American culture and values personal space differently. Eye contact and staring are similarly regarded as personal and rude if overdone. Another example that you may have heard of: When you enter someone’s home, always take your shoes off.

Keep in mind that silence is natural and is considered to release tension — as opposed to the U.S., where it builds tension. These things are important because not only should you understand how to communicate effectively with your team but how they’re communicating with you! Read up on Japanese culture so body language and social cues can speak for you when your mouth can’t. Things will go much smoother for you in doing so.

Willingness to Learn

Not to sound too redundant, but the Japanese tend to value learning and education. You won’t know everything going over there for the first time. If you show respect for the different cultural cues and customs, your team members and colleagues will appreciate you.

You may “mess up” here or there, but if your intentions are good and clear, you will hopefully avoid mistakes that are difficult to come back from. It requires an open mind.

You need to understand this because, at the end of the day, some things are just different. The public transit system, the food, the media, the social cues — they all differ due to a different place and culture. But that doesn’t mean these differences are bad or that you’re bad for not knowing them right off the bat. If you’re willing to learn about different cultures and how to respect them, your experience may thank you.

Have you ever worked overseas in Japan? Have you ever managed a team over there? What was your experience like? We’d love to hear about it — please share in the comments below!

Brooke Faulkner
@faulknercreek

About the author:

Brooke Faulkner is a writer in the Pacific Northwest who has conducted business all over the world. You can find more of her writing on Twitter via @faulknercreek

 

Editor’s Note: In my experience, an open mind is helpful, but not enough. Moving into another culture requires focused learning and intercultural coaching too. If you wish to work on your global competency right now you might want to work with our RockMe! App right now.


Feedback can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the context and the type of feedback. This experiential workshop takes us on a journey to examine giving and receiving feedback and to explore alternatives to traditional feedback exchanges.

Feedback and its Alternatives – an Exploration for Global, Mindful People

An explorative workshop with Adrienne Rubatos and Angie Weinberger applying concepts and tools based on the Vermeulen-Analysis-Model and the Vermeulen & Kinast coaching school.

An essential concern of this workshop is to deconstruct feedback in general, but especially the traditional Western approach of “giving feedback”, which still dominates the business world. Global folks are demanding a new approach to feedback, an approach that is mindful, supportive and transcultural.

The workshop will seek to support you in developing these new feedback styles.

Both facilitators have experienced constructive and destructive feedback, in the context of corporate, author or coaching roles directly with herself or with her clients. Indeed this was the starting point for deepening knowledge on the topic and for experimenting with new feedback forms.

Researching among global peers, general uncertainty in recommending suitable forms of feedback, especially between high and low context cultures can be observed. Surprisingly even in Western countries, traditionally known for directness, a new openness towards more creative, collaborative and non-hierarchal feedback styles is growing. Such feedback treated with reflection and mindfulness on both sides of the feedback process can lead to personal and professional growth.

The workshop invites participants to explore the concept of “mindful feedback” further.

Beside rich content, sharing of experiences among the participants and collective exploration of the topic, participants will also benefit from exploring alternative, less known methods: body learning, relationship explorations, dyads, meditation elements, sensing, metaphors, dancing, drawing, and spiritual wisdom. These interventions generally help to build self-awareness, self-confidence and a strong personal and leadership presence even in complex environments, like global teams.

The facilitators practice these in their everyday personal and professional lives. Most of them originate in the Vermeulen-Analysis-Model and the coaching school around it, which certified a limited number of coaches only.

We invite participants of low and high context cultures, both senior and junior professionals 

  • who want to deepen and widen his/her use of feedback and its alternatives
  • who want to enrich his/her coaching or training methods
  • who practice self-support and peer coaching
  • who want to sharpen his/herself-awareness through body work and mindful practices
  • who are open to exchange, experiment and learn in a collaborative style.

The workshop has multiple goals:

At a personal level

  • to review our past and create new personal experiences around feedback situations
  • to develop ourselves by learning new methods of collaboration, reflection, inquiry, self-coaching and deep-preparation for feedback situations

At the content level

  • to tackle, in a new depth and width, the components of, and the conditions necessary for, feedback
  • to look at methods and models to transform feedback, or even the wisdom to replace it

At the business application level

  • how we can learn to react, treat or receive feedback from our clients in a self-respecting way
  • to develop intercultural feedback styles for our clients, that they can apply to team members of various cultural backgrounds
  • to incorporate suitable technology designs, media and tools to receive messages from the clients (e.g. personal debriefing, social media, wish lists to the manager, feedback wall…)

Registration and Fee

This is a pre-conference workshop to the SIETAR Congress Dublin, 25 to 27 Mai 2017

www.sietareu.org/the-congress/pre-congress-workshops

Early Early Bird Fee until 28 Feb 2017 is EUR 390 (incl. 23% VAT).

The number of workshop participants is limited. First-come, first-served.

If you have any questions please contact us via adrienne.rubatos@t-online.de and angela.weinberger@globalpeopletransitions.com

Registration here.

Your facilitators


Adrienne Rubatos

Intercultural Consultant, Trainer and Executive Coach

Adrienne Rubatos is a senior change management and intercultural consultant, trainer and coach specialized on cooperation between East and West in Europe. She accompanies mainly multinationals in their complex international programs. Before, she gathered 16 years of industry and management experience, which took her around the globe. She holds a Master in Electrical-Engineering and an Executive-MBA degree, as well as various certifications in coaching, consulting and intercultural studies. She enjoys travels and languages, speaking six of them. Adrienne is an associate professor of IBR (global MBA program in Africa, Eastern-Europe, India, Israel) within Steinbeis University Berlin since twelve years, teaching currently HR. She is the author of diversophy®Romania, the book “Beruflich in Rumänien”, numerous articles and SIETAR conference papers. She descends from Transylvania, lives in Germany and works globally. Her growing passion is both meta-perspectives and small mindful and embodiment practices included to her work and life.

Angie Weinberger

Angie Weinberger

Global Career Advisor, Executive Coach and Global Mobility Expert

Angie Weinberger, who graduated in International Business Studies, lived and worked in Germany, the UK, India and Australia before moving to Zurich in 2009. She has worked in HR and Global Mobility in large global corporates like Winterthur, Deutsche Bank, PwC, LafargeHolcim for 20 years. She founded Global People Transitions offering intercultural executive and career coaching to internationally mobile professionals through programs such as HireMe! and RockMe! both for corporate and private clients. Angie has a systemic consultancy background and is a certified professional intercultural coach (B.Vermeulen & Dr.E. Kinast) with a focus on relationship building, mindfulness and body awareness. She is a founding and active Board member of SIETAR Switzerland and volunteers in a variety of social projects. She published various books, recently “The Global Career Workbook” – a self-help job search guide for internationally mobile professionals. She learns Arabic and loves Bollywood Dancing.

Guest Blog by Morgane A. Ghilardi

So, I was an 18-year-old BA student, had just gotten both my first apartment – a tiny studio in a slightly scary neighborhood –, and my first real, paid job – with a slightly scarier boss. Life had suddenly gotten very serious; being fiscally responsible and self-sufficient was no longer reserved to adults.

It took me a while to adjust to the situation, as the reality of being in charge of prp_working-mom-300x300.jpgutting food on the table, paying rent, and what seemed like an unreasonable amount of bills – don’t even get me started on Billag – was completely overwhelming. Nonetheless, I remember thinking to myself that I was the third generation in a family of strong women who have always been in charge of providing not only for themselves, but also for their families.

Although that thought is a comforting reminder of the determination and strong desire for independence that runs in the family, it has also been a source of anxiety. My great-grandmother and grandmother left France to live and work in Switzerland, while my mother was born in Zurich in the 1960s. In spite of speaking two of the national languages, all of them faced adversity for being foreigners.

And of course, they all experienced a Switzerland in which women were still expected to adhere to traditional gender roles, even after being granted the right to vote and access to the political sphere on a federal level in 1971. All of them had to work hard with less (if any) chances of promotion and lower wages than their male equals, while also providing for the family.

Husbands and fathers were not a constant in that equation – though not always by choice –, which is why I always saw these women’s autonomy as an extraordinary achievement considering the context of Swiss culture. However, I am also very aware that life has been neither easy nor fair to them. How does my life compare to that?

Now 24 years old and nearing an MA degree in English and Gender Studies, I recognize both my privileged position and the challenges ahead. While I am grateful for the education and professional opportunities I’ve had so far, I still see that these are strange times for working men and women in Switzerland.

Gender roles, which are deeply connected to economic and social structures, are still being negotiated and tested; we experience that in everyday life. Stay-at-home and part-time working dads and husbands are not an accepted norm yet. In the media, we witness a discomfort towards women’s claim for equal opportunities, as it is spun into some kind of epic battle of the sexes or an attempt to drown out the voices of men who also are struggling in this fast-changing society.

Looking at both women’s past and future as providers, it is obvious that we have been navigating uncharted waters, and that won’t change for some time. But if we just keep in mind that we have the right to ask for support and acceptance, that this is a path that we tread as a collective but also as individuals, we never need to feel like we have to apologize for being overwhelmed and apprehensive at times.

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Morgane A. Ghilardi, MA students at the University of Zurich & editor at Adwired AG 

Twitter: @MorganeGh

LinkedIn: Morgane A. Ghilardi