Category Archives: Global Leaders

purpose, preparation...

“When we are clear about our contribution to the world, we will use all channels available to make that contribution happen.”

 

You take your phone out as soon as you sit on the train. You skim through your email. Another attachment fail. You forgot to save the legal document before you attached it. Your colleague across the ocean is confused. After three emails you clear the confusion. You clarify your ask to her and apologize. You know you must come across stressed. Even though you know that you have worked at higher stress levels in your life, you know that there is a nagging voice inside you that screams “I need a holiday.” You wonder how this happened as it seems your last holiday was only four weeks back. Could the issue be deeper you ask yourself? Is something wrong with me? Do I need therapy?
 
Then you become aware of all the bullshit that  you need to handle every day in your job. It is not the job itself. You love your work. It is not the team. You have shared your vision, mission, brand and values with your team. They follow you eagerly because they see a brighter future with you. Your team buys into your cause and wants you to succeed but the politics in the management team have become unbearable. The blame-storm that follows every client issue and the loss of ground with your big clients have made you look bad. You are concerned about losing your job, not performing well and not delivering what you promised to deliver. Your wife looks at you for support with the children. Your daughter has behaved difficult lately. She needs your guidance. You want to support but you feel drained on every corner of your life. 
 
You had started a hobby about a year ago because a friend advised you to do “something for yourself”. In the beginning you were so thrilled about the new friends you made there but now it just feels like another obligation, another point on your task list of never-ending topics.
 
You snap when friends ask you if you want to go out for a beer and your mother’s voice is in your head. “You said you would come for a visit with the children on Sunday.” And there is this mortgage on the house that needs refinancing.
 
In short: You feel the weight of responsibility of being the provider. You feel that weight in your shoulders and your back. You identify with it through pain.

 

Stress written all over your body?

 
Many of us have stress written all over their body. Even though you will find a lot of methods of reducing stress when you look online many of us have issues to focus nowadays. There are too many distractions that pull us into different directions every minute. We also have too many “shoulds”. We should go to the gym more often, we should recycle the bottles, we should save money. Our mind spends a lot of time thinking about the “shoulds”. Here are the three quickies to get in control again.

1) Take one hour out of your busy schedule and consult a therapist

Sometimes we feel like we have tried everything possible to please everyone else but lost ourselves in the process. It helps in such situations to consult a therapist. Sometimes you might not really need therapy but in most cases you will. I am a fan of prevention and I know that we can improve our physical symptoms if we seek support early enough. Unfortunately in my experience, many managers look for external support when it is too late as they are stuck in an ideal of playing superhero. Alternatively, they are sent to a business coach. A serious coach should send you to a therapist or doctor as soon as you cannot confirm anymore that you feel psychologically and physically healthy. And some of you might seek a doctor before they seek a therapist, because you do not believe that your psyche could play tricks on you. It’s up to you! Do something about it before your family loses you for good.
 

2) Go for light exercise rather than the gym such as a daily walk outside

If you feel stressed but still in control it can help to prescribe yourself a daily dose of light exercise such as a 20 minute walk. I have written about getting healthy earlier in this post about my favorite productivity hacks. Be sure that you don’t distract yourself with your phone when you go for a walk. Build the walk into a routine such as your commute to work or your coffee run in the morning.
 

3) Clean up your workspace daily and mono-task

It sounds simple but is a commonly known ZEN practice. You can get rid of the constant distractions by developing a regular routine of cleaning up and only working on one topic at the time. The stream of information you are letting in can be directed in the right channel. One example: If you think I should file my documents do it the same day. Spend five minutes every evening before you rush home to clean up your desk. Throw away everything that you don’t need. Before you start your workday write down your top three priorities for the day.
 
Let me know how you handle stress in the comments.
 
 

by Angie Weinberger

Multinational companies in Switzerland promote an “inclusive” culture. All people regardless of their religious or cultural background should have the same opportunities within the company. While I often hear that Switzerland is so intercultural as it has four different language regions and lies in the middle of Europe I experience a different reality. In public discussions we speak about differences but we hardly touch pragmatic solutions for helping each other to get along. Here are 13 easy to implement ideas to make your Muslim employees feel more included in your workforce.

At the bottom of inclusiveness is intercultural competence or as I call it “Global Leadership Competency”. Last year, one of my Muslim clients was attacked in the tram (local train) because she was wearing a headscarf. She and her husband had just moved into Basel from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She then decided not to wear a headscarf and to speak German in public. She is fluent as she grew up in Germany. One of my colleagues told me about an African-American who is scared to leave his house because he is constantly asked for his papers and stared at. He wears a beard and his religious background is not Muslim but he feels treated like a terrorist here.

Another one of my US clients who is of Malaysian decent asked me why he is constantly asked for his residence permit these days. And I heard many other stories from friends who just happen to have a Pakistani, Indian or Tunisian background. Most of them are well-educated professionals who could work anywhere in the world.

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We help our clients to gain their confidence back. We point out that Switzerland is an open country with a long history of religious freedom. That includes the freedom to not believe in anything at all. We raise the intercultural competence of the employees in the companies we work with but we cannot reach every single person in the country. I am embarrassed when I hear such stories.

We wish for our clients to be received with open arms in everyday life and in the companies they work for irrespective of their cultural and religious background.

Since 2000, I observed that many global companies develop intercultural competence of their staff and managers mainly through training and legislative minimum standards. While this is better than nothing it is not enough. In Switzerland, the current trend in diversity training is to uncover our “unconscious bias”, i.e how our unconscious stereotypes affect our hiring and promotion decisions. We tend to like people who look like us, think like us, behave like us come from backgrounds similar to ours. This is also called the Mini-Me syndrome.

I don’t see many discussions in corporations around intercultural, interracial and inter-religious differences and commonalities. The main reason is that outside of intercultural training these differences tend to be seen as personal differences more often than cultural differences. Once there is a conflict it is often attributed to the individual rather than cultural background. Or the other way round: Negative judgements are attributed to the cultural background rather than the individual behavior. Hardly anyone I know has enough knowledge to even distinguish between a stereotype and a cultural tendency.

We should encourage intercultural discussions more often. Awareness creates acceptance in a multicultural environment. In Tourism, we tackle customers differently according to their cultural background. In companies we can provide a discrimination-free environment and welcome everyone with open arms by considering a few minor but effective adjustments.

1) Religion is a private matter of every employee which should not have to do anything with her or his work performance. If we focus our assessments on performance rather than person we are on a good track.

2) Muslims might need short breaks to pray. If we use a trust-based time management system rather than strict time control we can ensure that the religious minorities get the prayer time during the day.

3) In hospitals physician must learn rules which have to be observed by Muslims especially when a man treats a women. In case of doubt ask the patient.

4) In tourism we need to learn what is important to client from the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia for example as with the ban of burqas we might not be able to serve those clients in Switzerland any longer.

5) In the police we need to ensure that we are moving away from stereotyping and get a clear understanding of why many young man feel overburdened with the life in another culture while their families at home depend on their financial support.

6) As therapists and other health care professionals we need to learn how trauma of war and being alone when you come from a collectivist cultural background might affect your psyche. We also need to understand that counseling might not be a concept in many of the home cultures of Muslim employees (assuming they did not grow up in Europe or the US).

7) We need to differentiate the social classes of the person we speak to. If you have an Islamic banker or a writer who had fled from Afghanistan, then you are likely to have no misunderstandings because you can communicate with both in German or English. But if you talk to a less educated colleague who has just arrived in Switzerland and does not yet speak the language well, then of course you will need to simplify your language and use techniques to check in if he or she understands you. Avoid to speak in child language and use proper German or English when speaking.

8) We need to train our staff members at authorities, medical assistants, personal assistants and company receptionists to deal with cultural differences better.

9) We can get the basics for inclusion right. It is also important for Jews, Hindus, Jains and many other religious minorities to know what they eat and drink. You can install signs in the canteen and explain what is in the food. You can offer one halal meat dish. At cocktail parties you can show which drinks contain alcohol and explain that everyone is welcome even if they don’t like wine.

10) We can approve extended holidays over Muslim festivals to fly or drive home. Adapt your company’s HR policy to provide more flexibility for different religious holidays.

11) We can congratulate Muslims on their holidays. In the fasting month of Ramadan allow shorter working hours.

12) We can provide prayer and meditation rooms to our staff. It helps all staff members to have quite zones where they can contemplate, pray or simply meditate in these hectic times.

13) We can provide more vocational training and internship opportunities to refugees and asylum seekers. Many refugees do not have formal qualifications and will fall through the roster of our recruitment processes but we could see how they work if we provide more internships and vocational training to them.

I hope that these 13 pragmatic ideas will help you to build an environment in which your Muslim employees feel more included. If you would like more customized advice please contact me at angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

 

 


Walking has a positive effect on your brain and helps you to relax. When your life is stuck and you feel like you are not moving ahead running in a rat race it might be time to walk. It could be that your professional life is where you strive and feel happy but your personal life just does not feel right. One of the reasons is that you might be a victim of “time management” and optimization. We often do not get the results we aspire because we are running after them. We are trying to achieve too many goals at the same time. We’ve learnt how to set SMART goals and we push these on everything we do. We have learnt to optimize our time, to prioritize and to tick of tasks from our To-Do list. All in the name of “productivity”. This worked well in the past but is “efficiency” really the best way to handle your life overall? When we push all those ideas from management by objectives on to our personal lives we might face resistance sooner or later.

“People in our lives don’t function like subordinates in business.” via @angieweinberger 

 

The best way to deal with this in my view is to take time out to review what we really want for our life. We also need to challenge our own expectations and judgements of others. Do they stem from real observation and listening? Or are we projecting our own wishes and judgements into another person?

“Take A Walk” is an experiment in mindful leadership where you learn methods for self-reflection, peer consulting and also creative writing. You learn to challenge your past thinking and start to work on a vision for your future. If you are interested in working with us please email to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

Angie

PS: From 2018 we will offer an 8-day retreat as well. Watch out for our offer by subscribing to the weekly “Global People Club Sandwich”

 

 


Did you ever spend an intimate moment with your partner where he or she was telling you something that was important to them. You talk, sooth each other and you feel like giving everything to this loved person. Then she checks her phone. Or he gets up and gets a beer from the fridge.

Then out of nowhere you are getting frustrated, negative and even aggressive. You lost the place of love and went into the place of need. The atmosphere is ruined.

The same can happen at work. You thought you have a good relationship with a colleague or a manager and then one day out of the blue they shout at you. Or they send you a really long email how you disappointed them again and how you ruined their day.

Did you ever experience this?

What I have learned over the last three years of being an entrepreneur is that we can influence the way we respond in 80% of the time. In 20% of the time I still want to learn to stay calm and compassionate. Here are seven steps to responding in order to avoid negativity in relationships.

1) Take a break

Emily Bennington held a talk at the Powerhouse Zurich in September 2013 and explained the space between stimulus and response. In this area we can decide if we shout, cry or explode. Often we are losing control though and just act out.

We could pull us out of the situation and respond with compassion and love. Often when we get emotional it helps to remove ourselves from the situation and look at what is going on.

Ask yourself: “What do I need now to feel secure and loved again?”

 2) Respond by expressing your need

Instead of shouting back or answering with another long-winded email we could say “I understand that you are tired today but my need for order and a structured week gets messed up when we do not finish the housework on the weekend.”

To your colleague you could respond to the email saying: “I understand why you are angry but I’d prefer to discuss this in person. When can we talk?”

 

3) Listen to the signs of your body

Our bodies are featured with red lights. Some of us have been on the autobahn of our lives for too long though to see the red lights when they go on. After years of training as a coach and lots of sensitivity exercises I now recognize the red lights better.

You might feel dizzy in the stomach or head, your heartbeat increases, blood rushes into your head or your hands start to shiver.

When I feel overwhelmed with stress another indicator is severe back pain in the lower part of my back.

I listen to my body and when I notice any signs I take a note in my diary and ask myself what I need right now.

Sometimes it could just be water, food or a break but often it is an emotional need.

Sun Flowers
Give people more Flowers!

4) Let your written response simmer in your draft folder

I once in my young career made the mistake of answering all emails immediately. Everything always seemed urgent. Until I made a mistake and my manager gave me advice to let emails simmer in the draft folder. So now I have a rule not to send emails I wrote under emotional pressure for a minimum of twelve hours.

I risk to be considered slow. Most people who know me well already know that I must be thinking hard as I am usually VERY responsive and fast with email.

In 2015 I deleted at least ten emails the next morning or even two hours after they were written. Most of the time I recognized that I was talking to my inner worry monster, not the person who emailed me initially.

5) Have a conversation with your inner worry monster

Do you know anyone who likes negative feedback or criticism? I don’t. But I know that when I have a good relationship and someone gives me a feedback on what I could improve I am happy and thankful. UNLESS and here is the catch they put their finger right into the wound that says „Thou art not worthy.“ (you are a scam).

Millions of women (and a lot of men) are suffering from the imposture syndrome. Thank God I finally stopped dreaming that I did not pass university and have to take the math test again (which funnily enough was my best subject).

The worry monster attacks us when we are moving out of our comfort zone into unknown lands of skills we never had to master. Next to practicing daily it might help you to speak to your worry monster. Tell him all that you have done already to practice and how you will continue to do so. It could be that the worry monster appreciates your efforts.

 

6) Listen to guided meditations

Ok, I know that meditation is not everybody’s cup of tea but sometimes when the negative talk is too loud you need to hear another voice. Give yourself 5 minutes in the morning and listen to a guided meditation.

 

7) Go running or walking

A lot of people I know go running or walking to “get their head clear”. I think they alsIMG_0183o clear their hearts. Both exercises are helping your heart digest the emotional food it has been served. Maybe you are a very sensitive person. I often pick up emotions of my clients or they remind me of my own emotional state a few years back. I developed rituals to help my heart handle these emotions.

 

Tell us how you made a difference by responding with kindness and compassion instead of emotion and aggression?

 

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