Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

Are you one of those settled professionals who suddenly had to get out of the last job? Did you love to write as a high school senior but figured a career in journalism would take too many years of crafting the art?

Maybe this is the time in your life when you want to get back into the habit.

Why would you want to start a writing career in Switzerland?

1)   You could not handle frustrating meetings any longer,

2)   There was a constant clash of your values with their values,

3)   Parenthood completely overwhelmed you,

4)   Your partner got a wonderful –it-was-always-my-dream-to-move-to Switzerland-Singapore-Santa Barbara-kind of job offer and you are in a new country without a professional network.

Four signs you feel the urge to develop your creative side

1)   You neglected writing in order to earn a living but you always journal in your holidays.

2)  You did not know you were more creative than others until a psychologist told you in a development centre.

3)   You are bored and need to do more than painting your nails, cooking and washing clothes.

4)   You are going through a transition and that triggers the urge to WRITE, PAINT, SING, PLAY THE PIANO…

Your writing could become a new source of income for you. You will probably not land a bestseller over night but even publishing a book has become rather easy in the age of kindle desktop publishing.

It is important that you have the skill of language composition and you know basic grammar. I don’t think you need a diploma in writing though (unless you want to become a literary fiction writer).

Three ways to start a writing career in Switzerland

#1 Guest Blog

You could guest blog for “Hello Switzerland” for starters or submit your articles to www.ezinearticles.com. They also have good writing tips there.

http://blog.ezinearticles.com/

http://www.helloswitzerland.ch/

https://contently.com/

https://serp.co/content/what-is-content-marketing/

#2 Join a community of writers

Zurich has a great community of writers and independent authors and there is a lot to learn.

http://www.nuancewords.org/

http://www.zurichwritersworkshop.com/

http://www.dicconbewes.com/category/writing/

http://rowinggirl.com/

http://triskelebooks.blogspot.ch/2013/11/tis-season.html

#3 Educate yourself with a good mentor

If you need a kick in b… I recommend you read Jeff Goins’ blog. He is a motivator for aspiring writers and authors.

What’s your experience with blogging and writing?

Please share with your best friend.

Dr. Jens Schmidt, A German Executive in Shanghai

Dr. Jens Schmidt is an expat. The company’s corporate headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, assigned him  to improve efficiency at the company’s manufacturing plant in Shangai, China. During his first 90 days he came up with a list of quality issues and he shared this list with three of his direct reports (Mr. Zhu, Mr. Cao and Mrs. Ping). 

He asked them for input on how to mitigate the issues within the next 90 days and what the “low hanging fruit” were. He emailed them on Friday evening and asked them to respond by Monday morning, enough time to review over the weekend. While Dr. Jens Schmidt was sorting out his moving goods that finally arrived from Stuttgart and settled into his apartment, Mr. Zhu, Mr. Cao and Mrs. Ping went for lunch. They did not appreciate that they had to leave their families on the weekend but they knew this was important. On Sunday night Mr. Cao, the most senior, eldest and most experienced manager responded to the email.

“Dear Dr. Schmidt, thank you for the trust you are giving to your senior managers by sharing this report with us before sending it to the headquarters. We are fully on board with you and we think you and the quality assurance team in the headquarters will give good guidance on how to mitigate the issues presented in the report. We kindly ask that you inform us of any changes once you have discussed this report with the headquarters. With kind regards, Mr. Cao”.

On Monday, when Dr. Schmidt came back to the office, Mr. Zhu handed in his resignation. Two weeks later Mr. Cao and Mrs. Ping also resigned.

Now, Dr. Schmidt had to lead 50 engineers directly. He was using everything he knew that worked in Germany — especially in terms of performance appraisal, and yet the Chinese employees seemed to be losing efficiency and effectiveness by the week. After 90 days, many engineers had moved to other companies and Dr. Schmidt had a hard time to explain to HR why he needed to hire new engineers and managers in the middle of a global crisis. His 180 days report looked bleak. The quality issues had become worse and Dr. Schmidt had nothing to show for but failure.

It took quite some time and effort on Dr. Schmidt’s part to recognize that what worked in Germany in terms of critical and to-the-point feedback was actually demotivating to the Chinese employees, who were used to more positive reinforcement than pure critique. These positive comments motivated them to increase productivity and put forth that extra, discretionary effort. Once Dr. Schmidt changed his feedback and his communication style in general he noticed that productivity improved again. He was also able to win the managers and some of the employees back once he understood the importance of relationships and the concept of “face” in the Chinese culture.

Three years later he managed to leave the country with a good feeling. 

Feedback is Completely Misconstrued

According to the original mechanistic definition feedback occurs when an environment reacts to an action or behavior. For example, ‘customer feedback’ is the buyer’s reaction to a firm’s products and policies, and ‘operational feedback’ is the internally generated information on a firm’s performance. 

Originally, the idea was that feedback changes behavior. Criticism or praise is considered  feedback only if it brings about a lasting change in the recipient’s behavior. While I am generally critical of this assumption, I would like to explain here three major feedback styles that I have seen over my career. Often they work in a monocultural setting or when they are framed well. For example, critiques work well for writers and bloggers, the sandwich works well in an Anglo-Saxon environment and Hindi-style generally works well in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

One major issue is that feedback often is NOT delivered well. Another issue is that often it is full of projections and that it has to be abused to justify why a good performer was not promoted. That is one of the key issues with feedback. For the next three styles we will assume that the feedback is well delivered, the feedback receiver asked for feedback and the feedback is not used as a justification for non-promotion or a performance rating.

German-Style: Pure Direct Critique

The German Style
The German Style

Clearly, people in Germany do not generally provide and receive feedback in the same way that people in China are used to doing. In fact, appraisal feedback can be very different across different cultures. Although not many like to do it, we know that critiquing – in a constructive and empowering way – others’ work is a crucial part of a manager’s job. However, critiquing someone often brings unwanted results and ends up hurting others even when this wasn’t the initial goal. This generally happens because criticism embodies two of the things that human beings hate the most, i.e. it calls for submission and it devalues. 

With a focus on what needs to be improved, this method works extremely well for writers, bloggers and co-creators. In many instances, authors actually request it. It’s also often used in educational circumstances, training contexts and examinations. Here it is important to focus on the work, instead of the person. For example, “In this report, capitalization is not applied consistently.” or “This paragraph is hard to understand because it contains a lot of passive constructions.” Germans love “Sachlichkeit” so the focus here is on the object, the piece of art, the work output, rather than the person delivering the work. The intention here is to improve the overall quality of the work output.

US-Style: The Sandwich Feedback

The original sandwich feedback technique entails something positive to warm up the discussion, followed by some criticism which is the real feedback one wants to give, and it wraps up with more praise, i.e. again something positive to soften the actual feedback. In other words, the sandwich feedback method involves discussing corrective feedback that is “sandwiched” between two layers of praise.

There are two ways to put the sandwich feedback technique in practice: 

  1. You start off with a positive comment, add constructive feedback with an explanation of how to improve, and end with another positive comment. 
  2. You begin with a contextual statement (I liked…because…Now/Next time…) and conclude with an interactive statement, e.g. a question based on the work done.
The Sandwich Feedback Model
The Sandwich Feedback Model

This method is particularly helpful to managers when they want to discuss problems with the employee’s behavior. It is especially useful for those managers who find it difficult to deliver corrective feedback. It is important to note that you need to ask for permission to give feedback and also find examples of where you observe what you find worth changing. Here you should focus on behavior, rather than the person and soften it with “tend to” and “I observed” and “what this does with me…”. Speak about how it affects you. This approach takes the name of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) and it was developed by the  American psychologist M. Rosenberg.

Hindi-Style: Focus on the Positive

Thumb Up
The Hindi Style Feedback

In Bangalore, I learned another feedback style which I call “Hindi-Style Feedback”. Basically, here you focus on the positive and remain silent on the negative. In order to save face you don’t confront the person you are addressing directly. If you have negative feedback you would tell this to an intermediary who then decides about how to approach the topic with the person.

This method works well in the Asian context or when you generally already have a high-performing team and nothing major goes wrong. Focussing and reinforcing the strengths and the positive behavior will lift employees up and encourage them to do more of this behavior. Also, I think it is important to build a personal relationship before delivering feedback and better to deliver it 1:1. If you are only correcting errors and you have agreed a more direct style to do that it is acceptable if you have a good relationship with your team members.

In the SIETAR conference in Dublin in a pre-congress workshop my colleague Adrienne Rubatos and I co-created a feedback map with the participants.

The Feedback Map
The Feedback Map (Rubatos, Weinberger, 2017)

We also suggested that feedback usually creates more harm than support and as humanistic coaches we therefore would propose to stop using performance management systems, Management by Objectives and certainly feedback. Where we feel feedback is helpful ONLY would be in learning situations, transitions and when it is explicitly demanded by the feedback-receiver.

I’m aware that this is a complete paradigm shift and that it will change our approaches to promotions, compensation, benefits, hierarchy and basically completely turn around how we work in organizations.

We are demanding a new approach to feedback. We promote an approach that is mindful, supportive and transcultural. 

Delivering Feedback like a Global Virtual Leader

Even if in a new cultural setting it’s useful to learn the cultural rules, perhaps through a cultural mentor, don’t assume that “going native” is always and necessarily successful. Most of the time, you will have to adjust your feedback style and create a blend with which you feel comfortable enough in the given setting and with the person you have in front of you. 

More and more often teams are global virtual teams (GVT) and there are no rules other than the rules the teams co-create.  We have vast experience working within global, virtual teams and you find further blog posts via https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=global+virtual+teams.

Alternatively, you can join our RockMe! program or the RockMeRetreat where we discuss these matters based on your leadership challenges.

 

Guest Post by Kevin Castro

In a survey commissioned in 2019 by Santa Fe Relocation Services and conducted by Savanta, a critical view is revealed on how and why Global Mobility professionals need to take action to affect change. 

The findings suggest again that even now, not all stakeholders are aware of the full roles performed by Global Mobility and that there is an opportunity here to educate both internal and external stakeholders on the true future potential that Global Mobility brings to an organisation and its development. This is further underpinned by John Rason, Group Head of Consulting, Santa Fe Relocation, who identifies that: “Those of us working in the Global Mobility industry will tell you that it can be frustrating, challenging, complex—sometimes even scary. However, when executed well it can also be exciting, fulfilling…” 

You can request a copy of the report by clicking here

While Senior Leadership recognizes the role that GM professionals play in the organization, does it transcend to having real benefits for those supporting the company’s best talents i.e. not feeling under-resourced or undervalued?

Perhaps only for some. As GM professionals, how can we further demonstrate value in order to improve the team’s perception and thus influence how the organization provides support to the team? It is evident from the above quote that challenging, rewarding work is being done but not being recognized at all junctures. In fact, given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international travel and thus international assignments and GM in general, Global Mobility professionals have stepped up in a big way to manage and facilitate expats stranded in foreign countries, navigating complicated and unknown pathways to providing them essential support.

Such value should not go unappreciated. In light of that, I have listed four points, which I hope can help you and your teams increase your value in the organization:

1. Get a Seat at the Table 

Do you have Joint-Business Planning with your HR & Business Leaders? If none yet, you should start engaging them in order to better understand their goals, focus, and how you can support Talent Strategy. This may lead to an easier path in demonstrating your value to the business as you will get to know how and where to play towards their goals. Does your company do assignee pre-screening, where you determine the suitable candidates for the international assignments? If not, this is something that you can explore and introduce. If done right, you avoid the pitfalls of selecting the wrong people. 

2. Communicate Your Value, Regularly and Consistently

Do you consistently communicate what you have achieved, the projects you initiated? Ensure that you communicate the things that you do and how you have supported the business. A study by Cartus in 2016, a global relocation services provider, found out that 54% of companies lack focus on tracking and reporting on assignments. Hence, it is high time to gather that data (assignment success, costs, the return on investment, assignees feedback, etc.) and have a regular newsletter, blog post or presentation at your next strategy and planning meeting. As my clients always ask, how will I know if the expat assignment is successful? Presenting reports is useful to communicate such info. 

3. Demonstrate Why Your Expertise Matters

You are the expert, and you should try to demonstrate this frequently. You can do this through sharing GM insights, trends, and how these contribute to business or talent strategy. If the opportunity is available to increase your Global Mobility expertise through having certification and further studies. GM organizations and consultancy organizations provide certifications/courses, where you can further deepen your mobility knowledge. For example, Global People Transitions offers the FlyMe! Program, a career coaching geared towards Global Mobility professionals.

An academic course to certify you as a “Global Mobility Advisor” is available with Expatise Academy in collaboration with Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

4. Be Flexible and Agile 

In previous years, the goal was to ensure that you arrange logistics and meet compliance needs, which are more transactional. In today’s world, the role expands and you are now viewed by the business as a strategic partner not merely as administrators. You should always understand what is important to the business. Today, the focus may be costs, but it might be something else in three months’ time. Keep your eyes and ears open for this and be agile and flexible.

In addition, as practitioner (in-house or outsourced),tyou should also be aware of trends in terms of mobility practices and service delivery.  You can start by looking at how technology affects the delivery. Do all assignees adapt to these changes, or do we provide omnichannel delivery? What do other companies do?  Such questions might lead you to new service delivery models or enhancement.

I hope these four points will prove to be beneficial for you and will help your team to push more value to the organization. So, don’t forget to get a seat, market your value, be the expert and be agile and flexible.

I remember a conversation with my previous boss, where he shared with me that HR is a cost-generating function, so it might sometimes receive smaller budgets (e.g. hiring additional headcount, higher bonus, etc.). However, HR’s role has transformed itself from a back-office support function into a more strategic business partner. This principle should also apply on Global Mobility regardless of where it is structured in the company. In fact, as the Santa Fe survey points out, Global Mobility is now increasingly connecting more formally with broader HR and Centres of Excellence subjects such as: workforce planning, innovative policies and advisory services (to both executive management and employees).

To summarise, in today’s world, Global Mobility teams are and will continue to become more valuable than ever!

P.S Sign up for FlyMe! now. If you would like to become a Global Mobility Specialist or deepen your knowledge, improve your skill set and build your professional network at the same time, this program is for you. Read in details below.

 

Kevin Castro is a Filipino by birth, who lived in Singapore for almost 8 years and is now residing in Zurich. A Global Mobility professional, with experience in Mobility Operations, HR Services, Project & Supplier Management, and Customer Service. He is currently learning German and at the same time enjoying cooking & curating travel experiences.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevin-castro-37010a49/

Cultural Overlaps

By Sara Micacchioni

Yachi Namamoto is Japanese, an expatriate residing in Hawaii, and a quiet intelligent individual. Though he initially is shy with strangers, he likes a lot to play host for his friends. In conversations, he will demonstrate techniques of jujitsu, in which he holds a high-ranking belt. He will also talk about the incidents that he experienced in his travels throughout Asia and America. Brought up in a middle-class, though relatively traditional home, Yachi Namamoto finished high school and taught ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. In high school, he became a member of a splinter faction of the Zengakuren, the militant student movement in Japan. He participated actively in numerous demonstrations and student revolts too.

How would you describe Yachi Namamoto? Do you think he identifies more as a Japanese or a Hawaii resident? Maybe he applied to and obtained his Green Card and he’s now a US citizen. Perhaps, sometimes he introduces himself as an expatriate and ikebana teacher, and other times as a middle-class man who is into politics. 

Like Yachi Namamoto, we all hold multiple intersecting identities which define who we are and how we understand and experience the world. When we think of these identities individually, they are just a snapshot. In fact, depending on the context in which we find ourselves, the importance, salience and awareness of certain identities change. This means that the perception we and the others have of our identities not only varies during the course of our lives, but it may change throughout the same day. At the same time, other identities might as well fade away in time as a result of growing older and having different responsibilities in life. For example, “student identity” may be a rather central one during university time, but it then gradually fades away in favour of other features such as “career identity” once graduates move onto different stages of their lives. 

And if you were to conceptualize your own understanding of who you are, what are the most important identities that come to your mind? 

How might others think of your identities? Is this answer similar or different than the first one?

Like Gardenswarts and Rowe (2003) point out, there are many aspects of identity, such as age, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, race, parental and marital status, religion, union affiliation, department or unit group, etc. The list is actually much longer.

The way our multiple identities overlap is a fundamental symbol of our existence and functioning aspect of our individual personality, placed at the core of the scheme proposed by the two authors. 

The Kaleidoscope of Identities

Imagine a kaleidoscope with several different colorful pieces. Think about those pieces as your relevant identities. There are also three mirrors, and depending on the lens through which you observe the reflection, different patterns are generated. With a turn of the lens, one can see things from a different perspective and understand better what all the identities at play are.

Very often, we are too focused on our national identity, which we often use to describe ourselves in an international context where, given the abundance of nationalities, our national identity becomes more relevant. In fact, even if we rarely think of ourselves in these terms, we are a patchwork of multiple identities. We act according to certain internalized roles, rules, norms and functions which are typical of certain subcultures. 

Who we are is not individually determined by the single subcultures to which we belong. Rather, psychologically and socially, we are the result of the overlap of all these subcultures taken together and each person’s identity is shaped by this multiplicity of traits. As we said earlier, they are generally all equally relevant at the same time, though they always co-exist. They can also confer privilege and power or can be marked by oppression and marginalization.

Try to recall a situation in which you might have had a wrong impression about someone and think of what made you change your mind. 

About Sara

Author's Headshot
Sara

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is head of research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.
Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Resources

Adler, P. (November 2002). ‘Beyond Cultural Identity: Reflections on Multiculturalism’. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from https://www.mediate.com/articles/adler3.cfm#comments

Gardenswartz, L & Rowe, A. (2003). Diverse Teams at Work: Capitalizing on the Power of Diversity, Society For Human Resource Management.

Ngo, C. (2014). ‘Kaleidoscope of identities’. Tedx UOregon. University of Oregon. Retrieved May 6, 2020, from  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRGqgNuJDIk

Blogs

Edgar Schein on Culture

Milk Car

by Oyin Adedokun  

oyindamola@globalpeopletransitions.com 

There is no doubt that the novel Coronavirus has taken its toll on your business. A lot of things are not working perfectly and the little things that are, are only doing so skeletally. There is a current wave of uncertainty, volatility, and complexities that is sweeping the world. However, I have some good news for you. Yes, good news! You are not the only one in this whole drama. We are all in this together. There is nothing to be gained from asking the question ‘when will this pandemic be over?’ because nobody knows. The best you can do instead is to start taking measures to stay ahead of the pandemic. Now, here is the good news. I will give you seven strategies that will allow your business to stay afloat this pandemic and its gruesome impacts.

Identify the unique challenges confronting your business. The starting point to proffering viable solutions to any problem is to first identify the problem itself. It’s quite amazing that many people run helter-skelter seeking solutions, yet give vague answers such as Coronavirus when asked what exactly the problem is. You must be explicit about the challenges confronting your business.

Be Flexible. This period requires the fortitude to be able to adapt conveniently with the series of changes that are sweeping across the world. A lot of decisions would need to be made promptly as events continue to unfold.

Embrace technology. The novel Coronavirus has fast-tracked the emergence of a digital world. As the need for physical touch and presence in executing and managing business suddenly fizzles out, the need to embrace digital contacts has further been accentuated by the pandemic.  According to Forbes’  the Corona Pandemic is forcing digital transformation. 

Apply for social security packages. You might be eligible for a support package for your business in your location targeted at cushioning the effect of Coronavirus. Governments are making a lot of fiscal and monetary policies geared towards stimulating the economy by supporting companies from suffering bankruptcy and facilitating a sustainable recovery.

Ensure effective Communication. This point ought to be at the head of the list because it is a non-negotiable factor to keeping your business running successfully during and even after Coronavirus.  You must be able to keep in touch constantly with your employees, clients, and customers. This is simply because you must keep intact the trust that relevant stakeholders have in you. The greatest tool for achieving this is tomaintain constant and effective communication with both your customers and stakeholders. Employ the service of a copywriter, if possible.

Think ahead.  It is imperative to think about what would be obtainable after Coronavirus is over or perhaps, when the social restrictions are totally lifted. You need to put strategies in place that would give you a competitive advantage. Think about what could be done differently. How do you deliver to your clients in the most dynamic way that keeps them glued as patrons of your services? These and more are the questions you must consistently ask yourself. Our RockMeApp provides you with the facility to help you get ahead. 

Lastly, keep a positive and optimistic mind. I know that the world is currently a difficult place to live in. And even the image of the Coronavirus itself looks scary on its own (well, maybe for me). However, I want you to know that things will fall back to normal. It might interest you to know that this is not the worst pandemic that has ever confronted the world. The world has conquered over and again. We will whip this pandemic as well. But you need to have a positive and optimistic outlook about life to keep your sanity and maintain belief. The fact that you are taking out time to read this piece means you already have hope that things will get better, and trust me, they will.

This too shall pass. Remain positive. Cheers.

Oyin.

Further Reading:

Is COVID-19 Forcing Your Digital Transfomation? 12 Steps To Move Faster:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/04/05/is-covid-19-forcing-your-digital-transformation-12-steps-to-move-faster/#44f6f1f5617b

ILO: Social protection responses to the COVID-19 crisis-Country responses and policy considerations 

Oyin is an immigration specialist in Nigeria and will work for GPT from September 2020 as an Academic Intern.
About Oyin
Oyin-Ayo Adedokun is a seasoned Immigration Specialist, who engages effective and efficient measures in providing expatriates with the processing of all relevant visas such as, Residence Permits, Quota Approvals, Temporary Work Permit and any other work-related documents required to enable expatriates to work in Nigeria, with a demonstrated history of working in the oil and energy industry.
Oyin has a practical insight into how the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Ministry of Interior work and so, facilitates itch-free immigration processes.
He prides himself in mobilizing human capital for international businesses, as well as investors from the global pool of human resources while ensuring that they have a stress-free immigration process both in Nigeria and at various Nigerian Embassies and High Commission all over the world. He is currently managing the immigration facilities of well over 100 expats in one of the leading oil servicing companies in West Africa.
https://www.linkedin.com/in/oyindamola-ayomide-adedokun/