Category Archives: Global Mobility
Ilanz, Graubuenden, Switzerland

Have-Done-Diaries are a great tool to boost your productivity. It is the opposite of the To-Do-List and was promoted by my coach educator Boudewijn Vermeulen. Like me, Boudewijn used to work in a consultancy company, and he also coached a lot of lawyers. He knew about our ridiculous hours and how we were always trying to multitask to get more done in a shorter time frame, but you probably have experienced this situation yourself.

It’s 6.05 AM, and you are just getting out of the shower… Your hair is toweled up, and you light two candles. You get into your meditation pose and close your eyes. Then you realize that you have not set your alarm. So you get up and get your phone from the bathroom where you were reading an interesting article about the entrepreneur scene in Europe. Then you see that you have three new messages on WhatsApp…

At 8 AM, you realize that you’re late, and you hardly remember to take your train ticket, your badge, your purse and sunglasses, and whoosh – you’re out of the door. You remember the candles, open the door again, blow them out, and while you run to catch the train, you think: “Didn’t I plan to meditate?” Sounds familiar?

We have so many distractions nowadays (ugh! … I overcooked the pasta while writing this) that I often wonder how people get any work done. Have you ever caught yourself in the last 24 hours thinking, “What am I doing right now?”. We have programs and routines that do not seem to require the same brain activity as real challenges. 

Often we are just keeping busy, but our output is not that relevant.

I saw several people walking on their Sunday stroll the other day, and they all talked to someone on the phone via a headset. They did not just get a call. They planned to use their walking hour to speak to someone. I sometimes combine routine activities with other activities too. For example, I would watch a video or listen to a podcast while ironing. It works very well to combine such activities.

However, it does not help me to create. I prefer to mono-task and give my full attention to the task, even if it seems mundane. I want to give my brain time to reflect and digest the input, it receives during the week (and believe me, there’s a lot of input). My creative side suffers when I don’t give my brain time to digest, reflect and organize. 

Unfortunately, with Social Media, I have such a love-hate relationship that I really need to discipline myself to get off them.

If you constantly feel that you are not getting enough relevant work done, I urge you to try the Have-Done-Diary.

1) Write down how you spend your time by using a “Have-Done-Diary”

I find the easiest way to do this is by having a notebook (I mean, the old-school paper version) next to my laptop or computer, which only serves this purpose (and other creative ideas running through my head). You can add everything and anything you have done during that day, even this: “Sat down on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine on my face.”

If you want to improve your productivity you can also add the Pomodoro method to this productivity hack and write down what you worked on for each Pomodoro.

2) Join our RockMeRetreat

After the RockMeRetreat, you will apply practices such as the weekly reflection exercise. Invest only fifteen minutes per week, and you will be amazed at how much more you achieved than you thought possible. The thing is, if I don’t gently encourage you to do this, you’d rather spend those fifteen minutes watching cat videos. 

If you are feeling in a rat race or stuck in the same recurring story as if you are in “Groundhog Day”, you will profit from joining our RockMeRetreat.

Please share this post with all your lab rat and corporate clone friends. They will thank you for the productivity tips! Now, go get that notebook so you can start trying this method. 

Then call Angie to discuss your participation in the RockMeRetreat and TADAAA! Now you can write down “Had a talk with Angie about the RockMeRetreat and registered for the retreat in November – Sounds like this is going to be so fun AND useful”!! It’s that easy! 😉

This year we will offer the RockMeRetreat from 17 to 23 November 2022 again at Haus der Begegnung which belongs to the monastery in Ilanz. I hope you will join us there. The atmosphere in the mountains is rather stimulating and at the same time emanates peace.

I will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation and goals for the RockMeRetreat.  

Kind regards,

Angie Weinberger

Back to School – Seven Virtues for Purpose, Performance, and Productivity

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/my-favourite-productivity-hacks-seven-tips-to-claim-back-your-diary/

Immersive Experience

Richard Harvell, a Bestselling Author and Publisher, and Diccon Bewes, the very famous author of “SwissWatching” and other books about living in Switzerland as a foreigner contacted us to announce this great pilot project they are conducting. They will hold an all-inclusive cultural integration retreat weekend in Bellinzona on 17-19 June and thought we might have the most suitable candidates to benefit from this exciting experience!

Cultural integration has been proven crucial to the success of an expat’s assignment, but it has often been overlooked. This kind of crash course (it’s not a course really, rather a touristy weekend where you also learn lots!) allows the participants to learn about their new setting in an informal and enjoyable way. This transition period (from the moment you decide to accept the assignment, to the preparation, to settling in your new place and job) is stressful enough; this weekend is designed to help you ease in and be ready to bounce back. Employers will also benefit from this retreat: having better integrated and less stressed employees prepared to become more efficient faster can only be positive. Switzerland has long struggled with this challenge, and Richard and Diccon are here to make change happen!

Registration is now open here.

Rise of Women

Picture this scenario: a leading multinational company needs to select somebody with the right skills to establish their first overseas division and they have two equally strong candidates. Alice just got married and, in their best intentions but without consulting her, leadership decides that she would not like to go on assignment as she is likely to be starting a family. The opportunity is therefore offered to George. 

What do Alice and George think twelve months later? 

Alice and her husband wanted to get the wedding out of the way so that she could pursue her dream of going on an international assignment. She was shocked about not even being consulted. But it all worked out for her in the end: she is now working overseas for one of their competitors and is very happy in her role.

For George, the company’s decision really came at the worst time. His wife and he were about to tell their families about their first baby. But he still said “yes” to the opportunity and eventually convinced her wife to try that out. However, it was very tough on her and she ended up being sick through the whole pregnancy. When the baby was born, she had no support network. This situation also impacted his performance which was much lower than back home. For this reason, the company decided to bring him back. 

I bet it’s not the first time you are faced with this scenario. Wrong assumptions and stereotypes are in fact one of the reasons for which women continue to be highly under-represented within the expat population

However, there are a few positive sides that make the rise of women in Global Mobility look somewhat brighter than some time ago. Take policy and awareness for example. In 2011, only 12% of CEOs saw poor retention of female talent as a key business challenge, and only 11% were planning policy changes to attract and retain more female workers (PwC’s Annual Global CEO Survey). Yet, just a few years later, 64% of CEOs worldwide confirm that they finally have a diversity strategy and 13% of them are planning to adopt one over the next 12 months (PwC, 2016a).

What’s to Celebrate?

When we look at data, it’s important to break it down. If it’s true that the percentage of expat women swings between  just 14%  and 25% (Mercer, 2017; PwC, 2016a; PwC, 2016b), we cannot bypass the significant differences between regions and industry sectors. For example, while expat women in the energy and high tech sectors are only 8-11%, the percentage for the life science sector is 23%. Companies in the service and retail sectors also generally tend to have a higher percentage of women expats. 

Other research (Communicaid, 2017) provides an even more optimistic picture, showing us how the proportion of expat women grew slowly but steadily from 1980s onwards.          

And always on the bright side, among those employees who have already had an international experience, 47% of the female and 53% of the male respondents confirmed they had completed more than one international assignment. In addition, based on their most recent international experience, 84% of women said that they would repeat a similar experience, and 93% state that they would recommend an international assignment to a colleague (PwC, 2016a). 

Last but not least, 73% of women working in Financial Services believe that they have equal opportunities than men to undertake international assignments at their current workplace (PwC, 2016b). This percentage is encouraging in comparison with the 50% of women taking part in the previous year’s millennial survey who believe that promotion is biased towards men (PwC, 2015).

Even with something to celebrate, we shall keep in mind that these variations don’t change the overall conclusions: we are still decades away from seeing this percentage rising to 50%. Predictions show that, in the best case scenario, this will be reached only around 2050 (Mercer, 2017) 

How can you benefit from having a more expat women ? 

1 – You will Facilitate Better Assignment Selection with a Broader Talent Pool 

One of the main mobility cost drivers is related to the limited choice of candidates ready for assignments. By inviting more women to the club, you create more options for your company and indirectly to control costs better. The more good candidates you have, the better will your selection be and the higher the chances that you don’t have to sell an incredibly overpriced assignment package.

2 – You will Record a Higher Assignment Success Rate

The When Women Thrive report highlights that women are perceived to have unique skills that are particularly relevant for expatriation, including flexibility and adaptability (39% vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%.). In short, women tend to build cultural bridges better than men and work in a more sustainable manner.

3 – You will not only Attract, but also Retain Talent

Female demand for international mobility has never been higher than now, with 71% of female millennials wanting to work outside their home country during their careers. Also, 64% of all women interviewed said that international opportunities were critical in attracting them as well as keeping them with an employer (PwC, 2016).

If you want to be successful in attracting and retaining female employees, you need to have a talent brand with international experience as a core element of your employee talent proposition. 

Are you not yet convinced that more expat women provide a huge added value to your company?  In our previous post, we give other proofs of how a more diverse expat population makes you a more profitable and valuable company. 

Seven Obstacles to the Rise of Women in Global Mobility

1 – Strategy

Like the majority of international organizations, you too might be currently challenged with a lack of alignment between Diversity & Inclusion and Global Mobility. This is a crucial issue that you should be working to solve as soon as possible. When goals and data are discussed with Senior Management, Global Mobility Managers need to have a seat at the table. 

2 – Policy

Many Global Mobility policies have originally been developed for male assignees with children and a “trailing” spouse. It’s 2020 and this needs to change. Make sure your policy addresses the issues of expat women and new types of families – single parents for example (the vast majority of them being female), or same-sex couples.

3 – Nomination Process

As we mentioned in our previous post as well, too many times there is still a lack of transparency over who is assigned and why. Companies often don’t have a clear view of those employees who would be willing to be internationally mobile. And like in Alice’s and George’s stories, unconscious bias still plays a considerable (yet invisible) role in the selection of the right candidates. Because of the prevalence of stereotypes that associate women with family, female employees are usually not  even asked even if they would be willing to consider. 

I’ve been there personally as well. 

And if you want to take a small journey into the world of the unconsciously biased HR world, have a look at this insightful article on gender decoding. 

4 –  Non-Diverse Host Locations 

This is probably not such a big issue (apart from a few very critical war zones and dangerous locations). The issue, instead, is the assumption that expat women won’t be accepted because of the fixed gender roles men and women have in the host location. As a matter of fact, expat women in India have automatically a higher status than local women. And in some Muslim cultures, as long as you wear a ring implying that you are married, you can be seen as highly respectable and you will be treated accordingly. 

5 – Representation

While Global Mobility Managers are often female, women don’t benefit from the same representation rate at the upper levels. This means that Senior Leaders and Executives in Global Mobility are mainly men. As a consequence, there is an issue of lack of awareness at Senior Management level, and this is especially true in traditionally conservative countries.

6 – Lack of Visible Assignment Opportunities for Women

65% of female employees (PwC, 2016a) are still unhappy with the little transparency of their companies over the availability of opportunities for overseas assignments. 

It’s time that you make opportunities readily accessible to all, including underrepresented talent groups!

7  –  Lack of Human Touch 

The lack of Human Touch and/or previous bad Expat Experiences might stop women from actively seeking opportunities for international exposure.

In fact, teams are often too busy focusing on the many operational aspects of the mobility program and fail to design a human-centric Global Mobility program for their expat population. 

If you haven’t started yet, do it now. Talk openly about diversity in your policies and encourage internal discussion on this topic. Communicate about role models and success stories.

Six Potential Solutions  for a More Inclusive and Diverse Global Mobility Program 

1- Set Clear Diversity and Inclusion Goals  for Global Mobility

Global Mobility and Diversity and Inclusion teams need to set realistic yet challenging goals for increasing the number of female assignees AND female department heads in Global Mobility. According to KPMG (2018), only 41% of the organizations surveyed had clear D&I objectives in place. Without specific targets nothing will change! 

2 –  Allow for More Flexibility by Having Different Assignment Types 

New types of assignments and flexibility are making things easier for women and employees with family responsibilities to go on assignment. As I reiterate in The Global Mobility Workbook, Global Mobility should not systematically be synonymous with traditional Long-Term Assignment. In fact, even if those remain the most preferred assignment type by both genders, women favour 6-to-12 months’ assignments more than men (37% vs 29%). The same can be said for assignments shorter than three months (10% vs 5%) as well as frequent business travels (36% vs 32%) (PwC, 2016a).

3 – Identify and Understand What the Real Barriers are 

Do you actually know what the real barriers to inclusive mobility are for your workforce and organizations? If you’ve never measured in which way your current policies hinder women’s mobility, it’s time you act NOW.  Stop simply assuming the barriers to gender inclusiveness and understand better where the actual issues lay. That’s why I recommend intercultural training for all Global Mobility Managers.

4 – Give More Visibility to Female Role Models

While 68% of men feel that there are enough male role models of successful expats in their organization, only 48% of women feel the same about female role models (PwC, 2016b). This impacts negatively the wider female talent pool of companies and their Global Mobility programs.  If you want to help fill the gap, take active measures to drive awareness of the positive experiences of successful expat women within your organizations. 

At page 24 of this PwC report you can read a short and inspiring testimonial of a Tax Partner and Expat Woman role model. 

5 – Use More Gender-inclusive Language 

Too often Global Mobility policies still refer to their globally mobile workforce with masculine pronouns. At the same time, they would make you assume that Expat or “trailing” Spouses should be female. Well, it’s 2020 and this is not anymore the case. If you want to make your program more inclusive, start from how you address your talent. The UN has recently published new very helpful guidelines that can definitely be useful for your policies too.

6 – Foster a Supportive and Inclusive Culture

It is absolutely critical for your company to move away from the restrictive gender stigmas of the past if you wish to unlock your full global workforce potential. Your ultimate challenge is to create a culture where all your employees are on board with diversity and recognize how valuable this is.

Our message is clear: Global Mobility strategies that do not fully include women will simply not deliver to their full potential.

How we can Help you

If it all makes sense to you but you don’t know where to start from, this is why we’re here. Here are four ideas on how we can help you.

  1. We deconstruct your expat nomination process and review your existing policies for inclusiveness.
  2. We improve the language you use in communication to make them gender-inclusive and we also help you sprinkle them with “Human Touch”.
  3. We conduct an analysis of your Expat Experience and identify unveiled barriers for female expats and their spouses.
  4. We facilitate transition workshops with expat women in the host country, and prepare female candidates for potential expat assignments through our exclusive 1:1 Executive coaching program RockMe!

PS: I want to tell you two more things.

Are you looking for a board member mandate in Switzerland? Have a look at VRMandat and Stitungsratsmandat and check how they can support you.

Look up the above links also if you’re trying to expand your board of directors.

Resources

Read the insights of the 4th edition of the Advance and HSG Gender Intelligence Report.

https://stiftungsratsmandat.com/de/

https://www.vrmandat.com/en/

https://dorothydalton.com/2016/03/11/gender-de-coding-and-job-adverts/

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20160929-where-are-all-the-expat-women 

http://www.internationalhradviser.com/storage/downloads/Gender%20Bias%20in%20Global%20Mobility%20Developing%20Female%20Leaders%20PwC.pdf 

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/global-hr/pages/women-expatriate-workforce.aspx 

References 

KPMG. (2018). Inclusion and Diversity in Global Mobility. KPMG. https://assets.kpmg//content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/06/global-mobility-inclusion-and-diversity-how-gms-can-help-move-the-needle.pdf

Meier, O. (2019). The path to diversity. Mercer. https://mobilityexchange.mercer.com/insights/article/the-path-to-diversity-women-on-assignment

PwC. (2015). Female millennials in financial services: Strategies for a new era of talent. PwC. https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/financial-services/publications/assets/pwc-female-millennial-report-v2.pdf

PwC. (2016a). Modern Mobility: Moving women with purpose. PwC. 

https://www.pwc.com/gr/en/publications/assets/modern-mobility-moving-women-with-purpose.pdf

PwC. (2016b). Women of the world: Aligning gender diversity and international mobility in financial services. Pwc.

https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/financial-services/assets/women-of-the-world.pdf 

This is a good example of Women in Global Mobility
Riikka Virtanen Schwitter speaking during the EY “Future of Mobility” event (February 2020)

Peace

We are all deeply saddened by what is happening in Ukraine and our hearts go out to all the people suffering in this conflict, no matter what their passport says.

We stand with Ukraine. We condemn violence. We pray for peace.

Immediate Actions – How You Can Help Right Now

(Status: Tuesday, 8 March 22)

  • Keep yourself informed about the security situation on the ground and in the neighboring countries.
  • Ensure that you are mentally ready to support others and feel free to reach out to Angie if you wish to talk. The best way to reach her right now is through her mobile phone.
  • Provide a shower or room: In Switzerland, organizations such as Campax are looking for accommodation and families who have spare rooms to take in refugees for now. Being able to have a shower and stay for one night is better than nothing. Also, the Swiss cantonal authorities are setting up accommodation and you can check your local migration office if you have families and friends who need a new home or place to stay.
  • Employ a refugee. According to our research Ukrainian refugees will be allowed to work in Switzerland with an S status within 3 months. In the European Union, many countries will allow them to work right away. Check this site for a Q & A on the situation in Switzerland.
  • Hold a fundraiser at your workplace and ask your employer to match donations. The ICRC has great programs your employer can support and financial aid helps fast in this situation.
  • Support grass-roots actions. Our friend Birger Oldorff is providing transportation to vulnerable refugees through Human-Plus, a German non-profit. https://human-plus.de/en/ +4921531397263 info@human-plus.org.
  • Consider what you share on social media right now. We provide guidance on Digital Media Literacy here in this post.
  • Volunteer your time as you have great skills and knowledge to help. We love this resource for example: HRforUkraine
  • Be kind to others who might be going through trauma, anxiety, have to take care of families and friends, even if you don’t know how affected they are.
  • Offer your ears and hearts to people. Some people feel better if they can talk or chat with someone. Offer your support via social media or through your direct contacts.
  • Decorate your house with a peace flag.
  • Share important phone numbers on Twitter and Facebook. Many refugees are confused and not sure who to contact for help. This site by the ICRC is really helpful.

DONATION MATCHING GLOBAL PEOPLE TRANSITIONS

**Global People for Global People**

We will match donations to the ICRC until 20 March 2022. If you aren’t employed right now, you can send us your donation receipt and we will collect all donations and match them up to CHF 10k.

We’re not sure what to do if we raise more, but we will update you. 🙂

Donations and Fundraising

Here are things you should consider: 

  • Does the relief charity meet Better Business Bureau charity standards?
  • Can the charity get to the impacted area?
  • Not all charities have the resources to provide relief to Ukraine as quickly as necessary. It would be wise to check and see if the charity already has a presence in Ukraine or another eastern European country.
  • We advise against sending clothing. They could create logistical challenges to deliver to Ukraine (and bordering countries). They also often create a lot of extra waste if they cannot be used immediately.
  • Check if the charity experienced in providing emergency relief.

Experienced in disaster relief and recommended:

Red Cross (ICRC – and national committees)

UNICEF (and any other UN branch such as the UNHCR or the World Food Programm)

Amnesty International

Doctors Without Borders


The present war in Ukraine has reminded us how our world’s stability is all but relative and fragile. Just another sign of this BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-Linear, Incomprehensible) World. As if the humanitarian situation in Ukraine was not enough in itself, the rest of Europe and the world will definitely feel the earthquake aftershocks because of our ever growing interconnectedness that condemns us all to food and energy security failures and negative impact on general trade. 

The sheer size of the catastrophe is a major factor that contributes to the prevailing anxiety and adds to the confusing complexity of our nonlinear world: the multiple causes and impacts (even the yet unforeseen consequences that will or could  eventually occur). The overflow of information (information, disinformation, as well as misinformation) and the growing complexity of our world renders this situation and the whole world more difficult to comprehend, predict and control.

Jamais Cascio, the author who coined “BANI world” wrote “[a] sizable share of those of us who work in the field of imagining the future often struggle with […] a difficulty in seeing our world in anything other than an apocalyptic frame. It’s not because we want it this way, but because other framings seem inadequate or false. The danger of this urge is that it can easily become a trigger for surrender, a slipstream into despair. Through all this, we believe that we can do something to improve the situation, and if not the whole wide world’s situation, at least our own.”

According to Cascio, “for each problematic aspect of our BANI world, there is maybe not so much a solution, but a way to react, that might help us and others better manage the situation itself and our emotions and stress that ensue from it. When something is brittle, it requires capacity, and resilience. When we feel anxious, we need empathy and mindfulness. Non-linear circumstances need context and adaptivity. And what is incomprehensible calls for transparency and intuition. Everyone can do their share and extend empathy and mindfulness. As for context and transparency, we believe it is everyone’s responsibility to verify the veracity of the information they share (may it be in person or on social media). This contributes to limiting the misinformation impacting our confusion and anxiety.”

A year ago, the concept of BANI was just that. A concept. Today, it’s a reality that we all feel in our bodies. You might have woken up last week with a taste of iron in your mouth. The earth might have felt a bit shaky when you went out after you heard about the invasion in Ukraine. And now, a few days later you might be lying in your bed crying, feeling like you can’t face another day in this world. You went through all the phases of grief described by Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross in her famous book “On Death and Dying (1969).

If you have never seen a difference between something that you understand with your mind, but not with your body then this is your next leadership lesson. For example: I was able to explain “intercultural leadership” or “transactional analysis” in my late 20ies but I only experienced body sensations in my late 30ies. 

I knew for a long time that there are people who are relationship-oriented, rather than task-oriented, but I only experienced this when I went to India back in 2006. 

Last week I went from shocked to angry to crisis mode. My German default took over. I gave (friendly) orders, advice and pushed an agenda for providing psychological safety in this situation. Today I’m ready to grief and process. For most of last week I felt pain in my back and my shoulders. This is a trigger, body sensation I know too well. It’s a mix of feeling overwhelmed and anxious, feeling left alone with the burden of responsibility and having to stand up and do it anyway. Even if your voice is shaking, even if you are criticized, even if you are told to keep in your lane and despite your inner critic that tells you: “This will not end well.” and the inner Gollum (your worry monster) who also tells you “We’re all gonna die anyway, so why bother”. 

And this my friend, is when we rise.

Here are five ways to provide psychological safety and help your people stand up for what they believe in, have a voice and be heard. 

1 – The Daily Fail

My great friend Inge Nitsche, CEO and Chair of Expatise Academy is using a “memotrainer” and the way it works is that you are continuously asked questions until you get them right. The retention of this kind of training is exponentially higher than other training methods as people are told that their MISTAKES ARE GOOD

The more you get wrong, the faster you fail, the higher your improvement score and learning curve. Yes, this is frustrating, but it works. And I believe that I would like to practice that now. Because: As I recently told one of you “We’re not in high school anymore.”

I admit that I failed at giving psychological safety and it made me consider what I could do to role model the behavior behind it and how I could approach this topic with a growth mindset. I am working on an experiment I would like to share with you: Every day, I am allowing myself to admit one fail by saying or writing it down. Then I correct the mistake or I try to understand where I was wrong or on the wrong path. This is hard, because I’m used to being in an “Expert” role and it is very unusual behavior in a FEAR CULTURE but I will try it anyway, because if I allow myself to make mistakes and to correct mistakes, then others will see that it is okay to show that you are not perfect and that learning only happens in an environment where it is okay to fail even if it is just in small doses.

2 – The Broken Record 

Another experiment is the “Broken Record”. If I identify an issue that needs change, I will address the issue again and again, especially when I feel that I had not been heard in the past. This way, through repetition, I will either learn that I was wrong about my assumptions OR if I was right that maybe other people learn in a different way and that I need to give them the time to catch up. 

It’s also helpful to address the issues that you wish to flag at various angles and find friends that you trust who will help you spread the message.

3 – The Daily Agile

You probably know that this is one of my principles and for a long time one of my priorities because I am also a fan of the Agile Manifesto. So, I usually prioritize my clients over anyone else, but I also prioritize people over processes and tasks. This principle helps to focus on what is important in the moment. If you are unsure whether you should draft a contract, update your HR System or listen to an anxious colleague or team member and you apply the agile manifesto you never doubt yourself. Follow your inner guidance here.

4 – The ZEN Workspace

Without order outside there is no order within. Working from home a lot we now keep our home even cleaner than before and maintain a few ZEN practices to ensure that order is maintained on a daily basis. You can apply ZEN practices to your workspace, your desktop, your data, your filing system and your KANBAN. If you get overwhelmed by chaos, you can always work on your system and find a system or backup plan that supports you. It could even be a paper binder or a laminated checklist. Make it a habit to clean up every day. Keep order outside and clear your clutter regularly. I find this usually gives me peace and calm. Even folding the laundry or cleaning my shoes can help there.

5 – The Rollercoaster

When I get up in the morning thinking “this will be a quiet day and I can finally get a bit of admin done” there’s a high probability that the day will end up with laser swords, magic wands, and fighting the dark force. We can handle many things when we are centered and calm, but it’s better to be prepared at any time that the next crisis is just around the corner. Charge your smartphone. Pack a backpack. Wear comfortable clothes. Get fit. Be ready to run.

“Do or do not. There is no try.” 

YODA

PS: 

Join us on our journey towards becoming Jedi and sign up to get invited to the upcoming RockMeRetreat

Further Resources:

https://medium.com/@cascio/facing-the-age-of-chaos-b00687b1f51d

https://stephangrabmeier.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/BANI-vs-VUCA_Infographic_Stephan-Grabmeier.png

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacobmorgan8/

Expat Experience

Why Building Relationships is Harder for You

Turning into a Swiss Person

I sat on a panel, and I just got as far as saying “I think…” when the other panelist gave her opinion on the matter. She probably didn’t notice that I was trying to say something, but for a moment, I was annoyed and thought, “how rude…”. 

Funnily, many years ago in Germany, this would probably have been okay for me. However, I notice now how I have turned into a “Swiss person”. I also tend not to want to work with Germans who have just arrived in Switzerland because I notice in what they do too many of my own mishaps and small failures back when I was a newbie in Switzerland.

Having lived here in Zurich for over ten years now, I prefer to run my life Swiss-style. Despite considering myself open and tolerant, I still mess up intercultural communication. I’m not always understood, and sometimes I’m just wrong. I recently had a long discussion about left and right, and I know I have a weakness there. In the end, I found out that I muddled up left and right (again!).

Sometimes “Global English” also makes it worse: A bunch of non-native speakers trying to communicate in their second language can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary emotions.

Here are eight reasons that might make it harder for you to build professional relationships right now. And I don’t think that the pandemic is the main reason.

Eight Reasons

  1. You are shy, introverted, or not convinced that you are good enough to deserve success. Many partners suffer from the “impostor syndrome,” a psychological state of mind where people doubt their own accomplishments or consider themselves frauds just about to be exposed, especially if their career-driving partner just got another promotion in another country.
  2. You are embarrassed and ashamed of being “unemployed”. This is especially hard in a society where most of your self-worth is driven by your career and how busy you are.
  3. You come from a home culture where achievement is overly emphasized. In this cultures ascription is considered an unfair privilege while at the same time you are blindsided by the fact that you had an ascribed status in your home turf.  Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden-Turner associated the achievement dimension with protestant work ethic and belief. 
  4. You underestimate the cultural and value diversity in Switzerland. Even if Switzerland is the home of Zwingli and Calvin, there are catholic cantons where status, just like in the protestant cantons, is often equated with a family name, wealth, and how many generations you have already been a member of this society. So, there is still a strong ascription component that is not so obvious to outsiders. You don’t recognize that you have been in the out-group until you join the “Circle of Trust.”
  5. You are unaware of how you come across in person and assume that your style and behavior are “normal.” For example, you have not yet learned to read the cultural cues that hint that you might be too pushy or rude. A typical example in Switzerland is that newbies tend to overstretch a time commitment. In a society that runs on the clock and is a role model of the sequential time approach according to E.T. Hall’s time dimensions, not respecting this often creates a lot of stress for the other person.
  6. You are sending messages to mark your status in your home turf, such as the “Dr.” title in Germany. Or hint at your seniority by name-dropping the influential VIPs you used to hang out with. Still, this is either not understood or considered boasting, narcissistic, and merely annoying in Switzerland. (You could even exaggerate your qualifications and background, for all we know!)
  7. You interrupt your counterpart because you feel that they are slow. The Swiss tend to speak slower than many other Europeans, but they don’t like to be interrupted in their thought process as they are used to having a voice and being asked for their opinion on everything.
  8. You come from a high-context culture and you feel like you don’t know how to address a “stranger”  adequately.  You don’t know how to phrase your requests (your “ask”) to them, and they don’t understand you at all.

Relationship Segmentation Can Be a Barrier

Over the years of running my own business and projects, I often noticed that all the tools I tested to maintain a strategic approach to networking failed miserably with the extensive network that I’ve built over my professional life. 

So, I decided to let go of “strategy” and follow my gut and memory. I realized that the best idea is not to worry too much about “contact segmentation.” We Germans love the word “Begriffsabgrenzung”, so we also do this to our social life (“Bekannter, Kollege, Freund, Verwandter, Familie, Partner, Ehepartner…”). It’s a step-by-step approach, showing how much you trust the other person.

The same segmentation exists in Switzerland, but there are “false friends”( e.g., the word “Kollege” means “Work Colleague” in High German and “Friend” in Swiss German). In Switzerland and Germany, the informal ways of addressing a person with “Du” have different meanings.

Without intercultural training, a German manager will behave like a bull in a china shop in Switzerland – completely unintentionally. Hence, working with German managers in the “honeymoon phase” is a lot of work for the trainer or coach. I prefer to work with you when you are beyond the honeymoon phase, and you understand that you might not function in Switzerland like you are used to.

A Fluid Approach

My colleagues have become friends over the years, and some of my best friends from my university days or early career are colleagues or clients now. Some of my team members have become family, and some of my family members work in the same field or closely related ones. And some friends will never pay you while others will insist on giving back. The world is colorful, and so are people.

While saying this, I don’t want to imply that you have to like everybody you work with or network with. However, it’s another atmosphere for collaboration and innovation when you can fully trust the other person, and know in your head and heart that this person would never talk badly about you behind your back and would not spill your secrets with your competitors. 

Safe and collaborative environments require “relationship work.” 

Let me know what you are doing today to work on your business relationships.