Category Archives: Global Leaders

As our workplaces rapidly embrace international professionals and multiculturalism and become more diverse, an interesting development has come to light that I feel needs to be addressed at the earliest: the process of feedback in an intercultural context and how to tackle its many flaws.

These days there is this idea made common in several industries, particularly the tech sector, that abrasive, instant feedback is a way to stop beating about the bush and giving it straight to the recipient, sometimes even in public spaces. The idea being that the pressure created by the ‘tough love’ will motivate employees into bringing out their best, something that even Hollywood has glamorized with films like The Devil Wears Prada.

The reality is that there are issues with providing instant feedback, the most frequent one being that you fail to realize if the issue you are raising is concerning a person’s individual personality, or a cultural trait or was purely situational.

The second common issue is that feedback works differently in different cultures. Basically, your attempt at it may not even register, or come across in a negative manner. Americans, for instance, generally pepper in several positive comments before raising a negative one, while most Europeans are straightforward and critical about the whole thing. In a lot of Asian countries, feedback is discussed implicitly, and only provided in private settings and not in the public workspace. Do you see now how instant feedback could be misconstrued in an intercultural context? In fact, a lot of the latest discussions talk about ending the ‘traditional’ concept of feedback altogether, as it has shown time and again to not help improve performance. You can read about it here.

An important bit from the last paragraph was how feedback was culturally handled in Asian countries, in a one-on-one setting. It is actually now considered a preferable alternative to traditional feedback sheets. Combining that with the continuous feedback style is key to fostering a better relationship between employee and manager. It boosts the turnover rate for improvement as managers no longer have to wait for an arbitrary amount of time to discuss and motivate an employee, then wait another arbitrary amount of time before iterating on that previous session. Any undesirable behaviour or poor performance is not given time to grow as it could evolve into something worse.

One-on-one meetings further help this regular improvement along – these sessions allow for a more candid and diverse discussion that isn’t restricted to whatever rubric was set up on a feedback form. Combined, these two techniques can help managers bring out the best in their employees and build a more positive and constructive feedback cycle that is morale and productivity boosting. It is essential that this entire process be made a conversation, a two-way interaction rather than a session where a manager shares their rating of their employee’s skills. This is especially important as recent research and studies are showing what has been a constant point of discussion: that human beings are incapable of reliably rating themselves or other humans. You can read the thorough breakdown over at the Harvard Business Review, who make a strong case against the current practices of ‘feedback culture’.

Finally, I’d like to build on the concept of feedback but in a slightly tangential way: the idea behind ratings. Specifically, students rating their lecturers or teachers. Ratings have become an integral part of modern culture, we rate everything from food to places to car rides to memes. However, the entire concept is highly reductive and strips context and depth from any situation. For instance, giving an Uber driver driving dangerously a 1-star is not enough of a response, while a 1-star for a shoddy car will not fix whatever was broken in the vehicle. These rating systems are gamifying a complex thing and are fundamentally broken.

Coming back to students rating lecturers, I’m sure you can now easily spot the possibilities of exploiting the system to the detriment of the lecturer. Is a lecturer bad because he gave your essay a poor grade? Does that one poor grade negate an entire teaching period’s efforts? And is the student able to rate the knowledge areas she doesn’t even know existed?

All that nuance is lost when reduced to a rating system. Additionally, most lecturers are working in a gig-based economy, just like those Uber drivers, and they are at the mercy of these broken ratings system. So often those who entertain and let you pass easily will receive good feedback but those who challenge you and make you work harder will get negative feedback. And where do you think you learned more?

Given that we don’t know what we don’t know and our multi-facetted intercultural contexts, don’t you think feedback is overrated and an outdated concept?

Unless there’s an extenuating circumstance, don’t dignify these ratings systems by assuming they’re real feedback.

Let’s work towards reworking the ratings and feedback biases that drive so many of modern workplaces.

In our RockMeRetreat you will learn more about our bias in decision making and how we are less rational than we would like to think.

You will also learn methods that are more effective in helping yourself and others grow to your full potential.

by Caitlin Krause

I must admit, I initially went to see Spectre in the theater for one prime reason: eye candy. Yes, my motivation was all about the external appeal: I wanted to dive into a light panoplied spectacle that’s equal parts engaging and artificial; to lose myself in iconic imagery, and to revel in watching easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig as James Bond in the flesh.

SE_Seamaster300_Spectre_videoPreview_1600x900

Why is Bond so palatable, across generations, sexes, cultures and creeds? Bond is as familiar as he is idolized; men want to be him; women want to date him. Or, women want to be him and men want to date him — it actually doesn’t matter how you slice it; he’s an archetype for the ages; a brand’s dream. Now, with everything from 007 drinks to anti-perspirant, there’s a whole range of products catering to those who want to “be Bond” (or, at least, smell like him).

So, what’s the secret that makes Bond stick? It’s an appeal that’s much deeper than skin. Yes, he’s the quintessential sexy Brit — yet, he also represents something universally appealing to our core sensibility as humans.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@MindWise_CK”] What I soon realized brought a smile: in several major ways, Bond epitomizes a mindful demeanor. [/tweetthis]

Spy and agent activity aside, the following five aspects of Bond’s behavior are mindful hallmarks:

1 — He’s self-directed. James Bond understands the bigger picture, and he usually knows the next steps he needs to take, without always waiting for direction and instruction from authority figures. In this way, he exhibits modern leadership traits of self-reliance and strength. His superiors (Ralph Fiennes among them, as the new “M”) learn to give him a certain amount of autonomy, promoting modern teamwork models of self-management and mutual trust.

2 — He’s radically honest. Bond rarely (if ever) feigns friendship. He’s true to his allies, and his opponents know where he stands. He usually gives others the benefit of the doubt, until his trust is compromised. He even sometimes puts himself in vulnerable positions (such as visiting enemy lairs and hangouts) in the hopes of gaining knowledge and forming alliances. He’s cautious, yet open, which often gives him a hidden advantage… and, heightens the drama.

3 — He’s patient. Strategic and contemplative, Bond knows how to wait for the opportune moment. He’s not impulsive — rather, he’s direct and deliberate. He plans, without over-thinking to the point of rumination. Impressive in his own circumspect manner, he also delays/denies his own fun… if he’s pushed to sacrifice it, that is. The opening scene of Spectre is case-in-point: is Bond’s female companion from the festival in Mexico City still waiting for him to return to their hotel room? In a classic comic scene, she asks him where he’s going, he disappears out the window, telling her that he’ll “be right back”… yet, way leads unto way, and it seems there are more important matters at hand.

4 — He knows how to focus. Along with the above point, Bond knows how to be fully engaged in the present moment, without fixating on past and future. This doesn’t mean that he can’t learn from his experiences, yet he doesn’t let them distract him from his goals. In fact, we see any fixation on ghosts from the past revealed as a weakness, which is part of the theme of Spectre. What might haunt him instead becomes an advantage when he learns how to apply his knowledge and focus to the present moment.

5 — He can kick off his shoes and have a good time. Basically, Bond would be a fun date. I’m not certain if he’s much of a conversationalist, yet he seems to appreciate the moments of joy (ahem!) along the way. He can joke around a bit, and he often pauses between the high-stress moments in order to appreciate the finer details. He likes his martinis shaken, not stirred, and he loves the thrill of the ride (after all, it’s all about the journey, right?). Fineries aside, I could certainly imagine Bond appreciating the beauty in a reflective moment… fleeting as it might be.

Yes, while I could point out all of the mindful aspects of his personality and behavior, certainly Bond’s propensity for fisticuffs would discredit him from becoming the mindful poster-boy. Still, for me, it’s compelling to consider that much of the Bond attraction could be due to his cool, calm, collected persona. Developing a life of his own seems to be his next mission… This just might be the ultimate mindful message: in the end, Bond chooses personal love over his agent identity. Could this be his moment of mindful redemption? If so, love really does conquer all.

Airport

by Brooke Faulkner

Retraining into a different career or opening a small business isn’t easy under the best of circumstances. When you’ve decided to start over completely in a new country, the circumstances are rarely ideal. The pressure is on for so many reasons — moving is expensive, and you may only have one chance to make it. There may not be family and friends close by to pick you up if you fall. You’re likely being inundated with new experiences and culture shock, and maybe learning new skills is the last thing on your mind.

If you’re looking to take a new step in your career, however, or at starting a business in a new place, spending extra time on acquiring a business degree could be well worth it. Let’s go over the pros and cons.

As so many other people have proven, it’s very possible to thrive in a new country, and all that pressure might just be the motivation you need to start on a path that truly makes you happy.

The big questions are:

Should You Retrain With a Degree?

The short answer to this question is: it depends. In countries like America, where student debt is skyrocketing, it can be a difficult question and dependent on the resources available. In other countries like Germany, where tuition fees are subsidized, it’s a much easier proposition.

It’s impossible to say “yes, absolutely” or “no, definitely not,” because the world is full of different types of success. Some college dropouts go on to become extremely successful, while many jobs with high salaries won’t consider candidates without relevant degrees. Especially in the business world, roles and job titles are becoming more specialized, and companies hiring for management, finance, and other demanding roles like to see a strong background like a business degree.

As someone new to the country, you won’t have a local job history, and so a degree can provide the proof that you’re knowledgeable and skilled enough for the job.

Does the Type of Degree and Location Matter?

In a word, yes. One of the big questions to ask is where to get a degree to support a career transition. If you’re moving to somewhere where education is cheaper, you may want to wait. If you’re moving to somewhere that education is more expensive, it might be better to plan ahead and work on evening classes or online courses before you move.

Another angle to consider is how the country you’re moving to views the schools in the country you’re moving from. Some degrees are transferable from country to country, but many are not. If that’s the case, you might be wasting your time investing in higher education before you move, only to find out it’s not usable! Different countries will have different professional standards, and different demands in the job market. It may very well be that the country you’re moving from has more prestigious institutions. If the country you’re moving to doesn’t offer courses in a language you’re familiar with, that’s another reason to seek higher education before you move.

Online courses are a potential solution to this problem. You may be able to start studying abroad before you move. Or it might be in your best interests just to wait and plan on deciding what kind of new skills and education you need after you move.

Financing Options

Financial aid differs from country to country. The availability and amount of financial aid, and whether you qualify, should have a large impact on your decision. The amount of financial aid from government programs might be better in your home country, or the country you’re moving to might have specific grants and loans for immigrants or international students. Going to a country on a student visa first can often be a stepping stone toward future residence. Germany, for example, has abolished all tuition fees — even for international students.

Starting a Business in Another Country?

Some countries, such as Canada give preference to immigrants who are looking to start a business. Merit-based visa applications can be helped along greatly if you can prove that you’re going to create jobs. Do you need a business degree for that? Not necessarily! Canada, for example, just requires that you acquire support from designated Canadian investors. But you might need a degree to convince investors in your capabilities.

Bill Gates famously dropped out of school. He went on to build one of the biggest companies in the world. Steve Jobs dropped out too. In fact, there are plenty of stories of dropouts who made it big. As inspiring as it is, though, don’t let the hype cloud your judgement. For every famous dropout, there are so many more dropouts who don’t make it. Since we see the famous ones talked about a lot, it’s easy to buy into the dropout myth — that higher education is not necessary.

While it’s absolutely possible to succeed as a business owner without a business degree, getting the right degree can help reduce the risk of failure immensely — and in the business world, the risk of failure is very high. According to Investopedia: “The SBA states that only 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. The SBA goes on to state that only 25% make it to 15 years or more.”

Getting the right education gives you the knowledge to start up successfully and future-proof your business against mistakes made early on, that become disastrous later. You’ll learn a lot of the details about running a small business that you might otherwise not know or learn without training and mentorship. You’ll learn lessons the easy way, in a safe environment, instead of learning them during business failure.

So, is a business degree worth it? Honestly, that’s up to you. Like everything in life, a degree’s worth is in how it’s used. The wrong degree could be a waste or a hindrance, but the right one could set you up for success in a way nothing else can.

In many cases what you’ll want is good information. That could come in the form of a career or academic advisor based in the country you’re interested in moving to.

Need further guidance?

Check out Angie Weinberger’s Global Career Workbook or sign up to our website as a Reader of the Global People Club Sandwich.

Degrees in Global Mobility:

Please mention AngieWeinberger as a reference and contact her if you want any advice on the Master Course. Angie has gone through it herself too and is a lecturer in the course.

You can find her Master Thesis here.


Brooke Faulkner

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

#digitalnomads #knowledgeworkers #globalmobility

1st
In the series “Seven Principles of Intercultural Effectiveness” I would like to show you how you can reach your targets across cultures by adhering to seven principles.
The first principle is grounded in the lost long art of trying harder and showing more patience. It is called:

“I try harder and show more patience.”

In Switzerland, we are obsessed with the concept of time. We believe in process improvement and efficiency. What I have learnt though is that in intercultural communication you cannot be efficient in the Western worldview sense of the world. You need to learn to be “inefficient” in order to achieve your goals. Achieving your goals is what you interact with people for in the business world. I am not talking about your personal life here. Let’s say you want to develop your business in India. You have a limited budget and limited resources. Also, your time is your most important resource.
Now, you want to be effective, which means you want to reach your goal in the intercultural communication with the least amount of effort and resources. This could be a contract or a deal. It would be short-sighted to only measure the end result, i.e. the signature of the deal as the process to get there will be different in India than in Switzerland. In many cultures in the world, it is important to build relationships before doing business so if you give up on your business partners because they have not bought your machines the first time you went there you might be losing a lot of good business opportunities.
For your initial business trip to India, your main target, therefore, should be to get to know your prospects and business partners from all angles of their lives. Understand what they are struggling with, what they like to do when they don’t work and meet their children. Take the time to learn about the Indian culture while you are there. Get more information on the societal status of your business partner and their religious background. Find out what they like from Switzerland and bring it. Invest in the relationship only. When they want to talk business they will let you know.
In every interaction with your Indian counterpart withhold your judgement. It might be that this person is moving a lot faster than you and has more responsibilities to tackle but you won’t notice that unless you meet them in person. Find out what their day looks like. Be personal and approachable.
Global Talent Deer

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

I need to get this off my chest before I start shouting it out loud: What is going on with global recruiting in 2018? On the one hand, we have a huge number of open positions in Zurich, we hear that companies cannot find the right candidates, war for talent, shortage of talent and all that. On the other hand, I speak to a large number of global talents, who cannot seem to get a foot in the door. We are talking about highly qualified, well-experienced and reliable GenX professionals with the right attitude and skill set. I blame the process, not the people.

We need to really up our recruiting game

Last week, I started to vent on Twitter. By the end of the week, I am more constructive. I did not want to touch the subject matter of recruiting but you are the evil twin sister of Global Mobility after all. We have so much in common. We came from the same womb of shared services. Today, we are both trying to get out of kindergarten of the center of expertise we were dumped into because we are considered “difficult to handle”. Take my hand and let’s walk this path together.

So, recruiting sisters and brothers, listen up. I am writing this post for you. I want to help my candidates have a better experience. I will share my client’s stories and we can always share our pink lunch box to discuss this further.

ATS – The Applicant Torture System

Most of the applicant tracking systems I currently see are a milder form of torture. Why do they never allow you to save a process in the middle? Maybe you did not yet write your cover letter. Maybe you get a phone call or you are interrupted during an upload. Also, they never give you enough space to upload your extensive collection of testimonials and certifications. They hardly ever give me a status update. That should be so easy to program. Here is where you are, then you get a drop-down or similar with a few status updates: We received your valuable application, one of our staff members has reviewed your application, we have forwarded your application to the hiring manager, you are in the pile of rejections, we might take a second look, we will call you for an interview, we will call you again. Maybe you could get an amazing copywriter to make it sound appreciative.

Going back to the 70ies with individual cover letters

Seriously? Do we need cover letters and do we have to make them several pages long? If you really want a well-written cover letter it will take the candidate at least 30 minutes if the person is a native speaker and good at writing. If not, it will take them an hour or two. Just to go into the black hole or to receive a robot response. If you want to get a candidate’s motivation it’s simple: We need to make a living in one way or another. We have studied hard, worked hard all of our lives and now we had to face a job loss/ offshoring/ burnout/ international move of the partner. You will not get a lot of additional value from the cover letter and if you must make it compulsory, can it not be a field where you can just write 200 words instead of an A4 Letter upload and all that?

The robot response

The robot response is a little bit disheartening even if you are packaging it nicely. With the GDPR I am not even sure if it is legal that you keep the candidate’s profile in your database. Have you considered writing a line that is a little more personal? In the old days, we used to give candidates feedback and give them a chance to call us by telephone. I guess that’s no longer possible since you are now based out of Wroclaw or Pune. But maybe you could give a hint, WHY the application did not match (especially when LinkedIn thinks you have 7(10) skills. Was it because the candidate seems too lazy as he did not write a cover letter? Was it because the candidate did not adjust his resume, because I told him not to do that? Did you maybe think he was too old, she was too expensive or too xxx? Give us an idea of what to improve next time.

Thanks for your interest in the role of (insert role here). After reviewing your details, we’ve decided not to progress further with your application. We’ll keep your profile in our database. If you are interested, we put new jobs on our careers website (xxx) every day. Thanks for your interest in working with us and we wish you success in your future job search.

The black hole

It’s hard for most of my clients when they receive a lot of robot responses but for many of us, a robot response is better than 0 response. I don’t understand how you can do this and still look in the mirror in the morning. A busy person is using 30 minutes to 2 hours of their precious life to communicate their interest to you and you do not even find it necessary to send a thank you note? Where you raised by wolves? Seriously, sisters and brothers, this is just not good enough.

The fake job

If you have just posted a job online you cannot tell a candidate 24 hours later that you have found an internal solution, changed the job profile or that you found someone from your network. It screams “fake job”. What were your trying to achieve? I don’t get it and I don’t think that posting a fake job all over the Internet will increase your credibility. You might raise your website’s ranking if you are a newly established recruiting company but who will come back to you a second time? You go back to play hide and seek with the kids in Kindergarten. I don’t think you are ready for school yet. If you must post a fake job for any political or whatever reason at least have the decency to check if the candidate matches other roles. Give them a call, try to see if you can work with them in the future. Maybe they would be great as freelancers.

The sick bird stays in his cage.
This is how a lot of global talents feel in Zurich.

Unconscious bias

Prof. Dr. Gudrun Sander pointed out in a superb webinar last week that unconscious bias is still dominant in the recruiting process. She gave examples of how a name change from a Germanic name to a Turkish name reduced the number of invites from 20% to 14%. When the same candidate wore a headscarf the number of invites went down to 4%.

I had written a (German) post in 2015 about how important it is that we train our HR Professionals in recruiting in intercultural competence. It seems that we have not really made progress since then. Maybe we even went a step back when it comes to diversity and inclusion in recruiting. If you are wondering why you don’t have any female candidates, for example, you should implement the actions Prof. Sander recommends.

Companies complain about talent shortage. Maybe we would find more talents if we took a different route and asked talents more about their needs. Examples could be a four-day week (at 100% pay), decent pay and benefits, home office options and family time. And for heaven’s sake could you please eliminate age brackets and other discriminatory items from your job profiles.

Could you also consider that the requirement “native speaker” is discriminatory? In my experience, most of the positions you advertise do not require native speakers but fluency. Be careful how you advertise language skills and you could have a lot more qualified candidates.

LinkedIn Easy Apply

If you use this function, please make sure that it is understood by candidates and companies alike. I don’t know why “your job profile has been shared with the job poster” is less significant than a formal application. Is that not already an indication of interest? How can technology become a process enabler and not just an annoyance?

Is there hope?

Maybe, after all, there is hope. Maybe we should bond and not wait for disruptors in the field. We can be stronger together! Candidates and recruiters. You could be Ginger and Fred, going on amazing dates, dancing wonderful shows together if you just learned to speak each other’s languages better. Ask the candidates about their wishes. Apart from a job, they mainly want to be respected. How can you treat them with respect? What would you do if the candidate was your next date? How would you treat them? What if the candidate was your next manager, supporter or friend?

These are questions you should be asking yourself, my dear recruiters. Now, do your homework and then you can come to school with us in the fall.

Share this post with all of your friends who are frustrated with their job search. Tell them to book a call with me.

Angie Weinberger

PS: You can book a call with me here if you dare.