Category Archives: Global Leaders

About three years ago, I published an unfinished book chapter to a circle of clients on Facebook to help one or two people in the group for whom I hoped the chapter would be helpful. What happened next is that I got a message from an old friend. He offered his feedback on the chapter.

I immediately felt discouraged, thought that everything was wrong and wished I had never put the document out there. I had a full horror scenario in my mind. I was about to hit reply “Thank you but the document was already edited professionally. I did not ask you for feedback.”

I was angry and scared.

Then I read the comment again with which I published the document and noticed that I might have solicited the feedback. Was I even fishing for compliments?

Did I not ask people to tell me if they found the chapter helpful?

I muttered that my friend should not have criticized my work. I did not ask him for a proofread. I did not explicitly ask for his feedback. I did not want to have a Skype conversation with him.

Then I remembered my words from a training I recently gave. Most people give feedback and advice without permission. I advise clients to assume positive intentions. I thanked my friend for the offer and pushed the date for the Skype conversation. I wanted to hear his ideas but only when I feel secure, professional and ready. I almost asked him to send the feedback in writing. Then I remembered that he was not paid for it. I remembered that he is in fact a great logical thinker and proofreader and that I might be able to get a perspective that only he can provide. I took the feedback in. It was hard. I finally concluded that I needed to invest a lot more time into the manuscript and then I did not do anything for about 1.5 years. When I was ready to tackle the book, I almost rebuilt it and then I had to have it proofread by a native speaker. Again, I was shattered by the feedback and critique.

The episode with my friend repeated itself about six months ago. I thought I was finally ready to publish “The Global Career Workbook” when my friend asked me why I had not showed my manuscript to him. I did not say anything but sent him the manuscript asking for a review of the logic, structure and if the flow made sense to him. He reviewed two chapters and sent back a line-by-line review. I almost through my laptop out of the window that Monday morning.

I emailed back, asked him to stop working on it and mentioned the editing and that I had not asked for a line-by-line feedback but a general review of the logic and structure of the book. I almost stopped the publication.

What I noticed is that I will never by like my friend and my products will never be like his (paid) work, because I am another person than him and I have other strengths. My English will also never be as smooth as my editors. No, my English will always sound a bit off and I might make mistakes because I am not a native speaker.

Maybe you would not read my newsletter if my friend wrote it, maybe you would hate my writing if it was smooth like my editor’s and maybe you would not be interrupted in your flow if my English was flawless. Maybe you would think I am robot or copywriter and not the Angie you believe you know.

As a solopreneur, you might have phases where your self-confidence is as low as the batteries on my iphone. I have doubts about my quality when I forget to pull the presentation on the laptop before a training, when the laptop does not want to start before the training or when I take a wrong turn and show up late. So far though no major drama ensued. So far, I always find solutions (even without a big armada of support staff behind me). So far, a few readers really work with my workbook.

You need to belief that only you can deliver your services they way you do. Out there in the world there will be companies, clients and customers for your art. You just have to find them or give them a chance to find you.

When I make mistakes or when my final product is not perfect it annoys me. I learnt over the years though that there is a point where you have to let go, where your additional input does not improve your output. Another rule I have learnt is to work with highly skilled professionals. You can’t always be sure that the person you hire to support you is the best in their field but you can test them for a while and see if they meet your standard. If they don’t then you have to move on. You also need to remember that a perfect product will almost never be paid. So if you already spent a day on developing the content of the presentation but you are only paid for delivery stop being a perfectionist and work with what you have.

Have an inspired and wonderful week.
Angie

Global Mobility Policies are biased

Traditional global mobility policies written by Western companies with their outlook on taxation, international assignments and a home-based compensation approach do not fit today’s world any longer. They had a cultural understanding of a nuclear family and terminology from the Army.

We Global Mobility Professionals often sound like we are at war. We speak about home and host country, expatriation, repatriation or hardship as if our patria or home territory was the only island of happiness in the world.

We coined the term “home leave” to suggest that only “at home” we can relax and enjoy our life, while at the foreign outposts in Mombasa and Rio de Janeiro we are at war with the local population.

As Global Mobility Professionals, we are surprised that the stream of inbounds and outbounds has changed. These days the main expatriation routes are no longer going out from Europe or the US. We see assignees from China going to Switzerland, India to Sweden and Indonesia to Holland. We managed London to New York and now it is Casablanca to Mombasa or Caracas to Madrid.

A lot of moves and a lot of different cultural assumptions question the traditional models.

What is “fair” in a global team?

It is hard to say what is “fair” in a global team. Will you accept that your colleague from India gets paid about 50% of your salary? Do you find it ethical that your passport qualifies you to a better standard of living? Is the home-approach still feasible in a non-colonial, non-hierarchical and skill-based “eco-system”? Are we innovative enough in Global Mobility or are we repeating patterns of society that are as outdated as the suit I’m wearing to work today?

We’ve known for years that expats discuss their benefits but they used to do it secretly back in the nineties. I’m pretty sure now there is a WhatsApp-Group to discuss your benefits package by location.

Why should you believe your employer is giving you the best package possible? Why should you believe that the policy applies in your case when everyone up in the higher ranks seems to get an exception?

Generation Y populates the workforce. The “I”-Generation is more individualistic and used to instant gratification. This generation does not accept a one-size fit all principle. Policy segmentation is a start but I think we need to customize our proposals to assignees and their families even further.

Coming from an egalitarian culture, being fair and giving fair chances to everyone has always been important to me. Over the years I have learned though, that the assignees with the best negotiation skills have the best packages. Female assignees and assignees from less assertive cultures on the other hand often accept what they have been offered. Their request for amendments is quiet and not understood.

Senior management can request anything and often is it granted. For them “policy” is almost like a red flag that needs to be challenged.

We assume that assignees need financial incentives and that financials are the major consideration point when deciding whether to go on an international assignment or not.

We should consider skill development, learning opportunities, living conditions and extra services and build them into the benefits matrix. Providing these will also give more equity in the host country. I also believe that the classical home approach won’t last very much longer. Until we can fully customize packages we will need better GM Technology, engaged Global Mobility Managers and above all HR leaders with an international mindset.

Angie Weinberger

You might also want to attend the “Building the Global Mobility Business Case”-Workshop by Expatise Academy in Amsterdam on 23 JAN 2018.

 

My favorite bloggers write as if they are talking to me. I feel I know them. Great writing is a skill bloggers have shaped for years before anyone reads their posts. In our communication in companies we often write less perfect.

We have not learnt in university how to write an email that another person will understand. In my school, there was no course on business communication but we learnt a lot of crap about marketing.

We do not write English at a level where engage a native speaker. Most native speakers will find errors in our emails and probably find your style rude (German) or long-winded (French).

We perform anyway. We pride ourselves with the average number of emails we digest every day. Despite more communication there is less understanding.

Do we see a major change or has the shift happened and we feel the consequences? What is the change in the global society that influences us, creates ambiguity and sleepless nights?

The funny haired propaganda talkers of this world fuel the illusion (or delusion?), that if we all sat together with the people who look like us, talk like us and think like us, everything that is “wrong” with the world (economic challenges, unemployment, hate, scarcity of resources, war) would go away.

(#Bazinga)

You and I know that that we can only change the world if we model the behavior we wish to see in others. Only action creates change. (Thank you Mr. Gandhi)

Ask yourself: Can you reduce your emails and act instead?

Consider yourself privileged

Clare Joy and I held a workshop on Saturday for the CapacityZurich Refugee and Migrant Business Mentoring Program called “Building relationships and Enhancing Business Communications”. We held the workshop in English and German and most of our participants were native speakers of a third mother tongue. It required rethinking for me. We worked with a volunteer translator Viola Zoller (who did an amazing job) and Clare and I learnt to pause. We all spoke slower than normal and I noticed that even though we did a good job it was hard to keep everyone engaged.

The workshop made me understand once again how privileged I am, that I had the chance to live in English-speaking countries and learn the language at a level where I can now work in English. It also made me aware how we often exclude people based on a lack of language proficiency, how we do not take them seriously if their grammar is flawed or their pronunciation hard to understand.

I encourage you to watch your own behavior around others who are not in the culturally dominant group. I promise that I will try even harder to listen to anybody and to speak slow and use simple language.

 

We all have old beliefs that put us under pressure. Usually, they appear as a nagging voice inside our head and often they show in our face.

1) Inner Critic

What I often notice with my clients is that their inner critic is holding them back the most. The inner critic often corrupts any new projects that we would like to engage in by rating them as silly or stupid. Often this voice also stops us from leaving an aggressive work environment.

2) Comfort Zone

For most of us, we feel comfortable at a certain career step, in a country, relationship or home. Moving out of it would mean a lot of adjustment and discomfort. We play it safe and our focus is not on opportunities but on maintaining the status quo.

3) Please the Parents

Have you ever felt a little down after spending a weekend with your parents or one of them? Could it be that you are still trying to please your parents or members of your family? Being a good daughter or a good son is fine as long as it does not mean that you are giving up your own wishes and needs. When you are over forty, it’s time your parents accept that you are not a child anymore and that guidance should turn into moral support for you and your plans.
 Energy Refill Station

4) Fear disguised as Pain

Some of us disguise fear with pain. I have to admit I have severe back pain when I am about to publish a book. Sometimes I can’t even move anymore. You might have other symptoms but most of these are just fear. Once you recognize that your fear is corrupting you via your body you can deal with this for example by learning progressive muscle relaxation.

5) Perfectionism

Wanting to be perfect and not accepting any flaws or individual styles can be a sign that you (live in Switzerland – hahaha) might have a low self-confidence. You feel that if you don’t look perfectly and if you don’t present your content in a perfect manner people won’t like you as much. I have learnt and learn it again every day that people like me more when I am honest about my little flaws, when I show them emotion as I get sad or angry about injustice, when I tell them how I have been struggling with my weight for twenty years, when I mention that I suffered from separation anxiety and other issues. People don’t connect with superheroines and superheroes. They want role models, who have a real life. Keep the fairy tales and sugar coats of the life of the royals and VIPs on Facebook. If you want to really connect with people, open up a little. (This is a pledge to my Swiss and German friends too.)

6) Lack of Purpose

Have you ever felt bored out as if you were working in a factory? I remember a summer job I did in 1989 to earn money for a holiday in Italy. I worked in our local coat hanger manufacturer (Coronet). Every time I see a coat hanger I’m reminded of those days where you did endless manual tasks that required no brain, but you had to be very fast and I never managed to beat the machine. This experience made me realize how much I wanted to go to university and work in a job, that was diverse and needed a lot of creative energy. However, in the 2000’s in HR a lot of jobs were reengineered to become more factory-like. I moved up the ladder not because I needed a career but because the jobs became so boring after eighteen months. At about the same time I read, “Calm at Work” by Paul Wilson (1997) and it changed how I viewed my work. I started to paint a vision of my future life in words. I wrote down what and who is important to me. Sometimes I look at those notes and smile. Having a long-term vision and defining your purpose in the world might help you to get out of the boredom syndrome. Or, it might just be time to move on. (Please talk to me first.)

7) Efficiency Mania

You don’t believe how many times in a week I hear my inner voice saying “This is not efficient at all”. Do you have a strong belief in efficiency? Could it be that this belief is not working in your new country, job, relationship or with your children? It might be that you need to let go of the concept of efficiency and turn towards effectivity. Efficiency is a concept that might work in production and for machines but people are no robots. You need to work with them in a way that leads to the desired outcome without overwhelming, hurting or losing them in the process. Our complex global processes and matrix organizations today often require lateral leadership and you might need to learn to let go of your notion of efficiency in order to become more effective as a global leader. I used to believe that coffee breaks with my team are a waste of time until I learnt in India that they improved the work during the day.
If you noticed any of these beliefs as barriers in your development feel free to discuss them with me in your next session or book a session on Skype with me.
You can get a glimpse of relaxation methods at our open house RELAX event on 4 June 2016.
 
Do let me know if you want to join us.

Background on Beliefs: