Category Archives: Global Leaders

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 Are we innovative enough in Global Mobility or are we repeating patterns of society that are as outdated as the suit I’m wearing to work today?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:

aggressionWhen your colleague Paul tells you he has get home at 6 pm to see his children he throws in that your boss asked for a report she needs to have on her desk at 7 AM tomorrow. You cringe and call your partner to tell him you will need another 30 minutes to finalize the report. Your stomach feels hot and red. You are angry. Your colleague manages to get away. Why does he not have a deliverable here? Why is this team effort on your shoulders now? You think you could test if the boss was serious about 7 AM but you know you won’t get away with it.
[tweetthis]You know your anger will not change anything but on your way home you are close to tears.[/tweetthis]
Another messed up night. Your partner will be angry too now. You strip out of your suit as soon as you get home. On nights like this after leaving the battle ground you just want to have a glass of wine and a bath. Your partner rattles with the car keys. It is his gym night. Dinner needs to be cooked, the kids want a story and your inner household monster tells you to clean up the wardrobe. At 10 pm when your partner gets home you just want to go to bed. You almost had a bottle of wine by now.
The next morning, you protect your feelings through professionalism. You meditate and go for a run to keep up a smile. You wear a mask. You put on your business persona together with your pin-striped business suit and when you ask your boss if the report was ok, she just shrugs
“I had other priorities this morning. Team meeting at 10. Will you book a room for us?”.
“Isn’t that Paul’s task?”
“Yes, but he got caught up at kindergarden and will only get here at 9.45 AM. Be a good colleague and get us some pretzels too.”
You smile your best smile and help out again. While men seem to handle office politics better, I often notice that women prefer to stay out of roles where they have to deal with conflicts all the time. If you are in a leadership role – no matter if you are male or female – you won’t stay out of the firing lines. Doing favors might be easy, but verbal and written attacks will be part of your day.
[tweetthis]#Aggressive behavior is integral to hierarchical #work environments. We want to learn to reduce it. [/tweetthis]
You might feel you are giving more than you should, you might even feel that some of your colleagues advance faster than you, make more money and aren’t even better at what they do than you are. The good news is: You don’t have to accept aggressive behavior at the workplace.

Five methods to reduce aggressive behavior at the workplace

1) Reduce Your Aggressive Tonality

You could be seen as aggressive by others. If you solve conflicts on your managerial level by escalating issues to the next level, this could be seen as conflict avoiding and aggressive. Maybe your intention is to highlight a flaw in the process or that the team is understaffed. Still, the effect could be different than what you intend.
You might underestimate your native language and cultural assumptions too. If you are for example a native Russian speaker you could come across as unfriendly and aggressive in English without intending it. Or if you are a native French speaker you might come across as long-winded and complicated in English. It is good to ask a native-speaker friend how they see you and what you could improve in your communication style.

2) Stop Giving Unsolicited Feedback

You might also be seen as passive aggressive as you feel the need to correct others and give them unsolicited feedback. I had a colleague who would do that. I know now, that he was just trying to help me to become more assertive but at the time it drove me crazy. The basic rule is that you only give feedback and tips if your colleagues explicitly ask you for it. If you are the boss you probably need to give advice but be sure that you tell your subordinate that. Otherwise they will feel scolded and like back in high school. Since I started a business it happened to me more than once that listeners in an audience wanted to help me “sell” my services better or gave me feedback on word plays they would not understand. I understand the intention but I would have remembered them in a different light if they had just asked me about my intentions before babbling their ideas out.

3) Become a Listener

With the current average attention span of 90 seconds your colleagues will love you if you manage to listen to them for a full length of a three minute story without interrupting. If you practice to be authentic and a compassionate listener you will be seen as a source of inspiration and wisdom. Try to understand where your colleague or manager stands at the moment, which issues they have to solve and maybe also what they are going through in their personal lives.

4) Communicate your Needs

In business conversations it is helpful to speak about your needs and expectations in the I-form. “I need quite space to be able to think…” instead of “Could you shut up please?”. Or “I expect you keep the deadline for your deliverables as you promised to help me on this report.” instead of “Once again, you have not delivered what you said you would in time.”

5) Improve your business relationships

As I mentioned several times in the “Seven Principles for Intercultural Effectiveness” improving your business relationships   is the key to success in this globalized world. Work on every single relationship that is important to you and become a giver. You will be rewarded with success and long-term friendships across the globe.
Even if we have become used to it in our hierarchical work cultures we can all work towards a more appreciative communication culture. I recommend you learn about Marshall B. Rosenberg’s concept of non-violent communication and read Adam M. Grant’s book “Give and Take” too. Let me know if these five methods worked for you and what you have experienced.
Schedule a meeting with me to discuss your career situation and any issues you face at work.