Author Archives: Angie Weinberger

first published on www.sietar.ch.

by @angieweinberger

Values are the foundation of your global virtual team. Values are what clients feel instantly when they work with your team. They feel the connection because true values come from the heart.

If you are a leader of a global virtual team you have probably faced many intercultural challenges until your team was ready to perform. You might have underestimated the challenges of global communication under pressure or you have taken promises at face value.

When you bring your team together for an offsite you have probably already developed the team vision, mission and brand statement but have you considered your values? I am not talking about the value statement you read in the corporate magazine. I am talking about the values you and your team members all share and the ones that your clients feel.

We recently developed ten values in an intercultural team intervention. In intercultural settings values could be expected to go into various directions but when you break them down you will see that there are similarities or universal values that we all share. Research by Schwartz and Bilsky (1990) suggests that we have universal values although they research was mainly conducted in Western cultures (and Hongkong).

achievement, enjoyment, maturity, prosocial, restrictive conformity, security, self-direction

From values you can derive team principles of communication and of working together. Then in case of conflict you have principles to base your decisions on.

When working with my clients in 1:1 career or executive sessions I always build in a session on values at work. What I felt are the seven most commonly cited (this is anecdotal, not academic data) are these:

  1. Quality
  2. Client Service
  3. Collaboration
  4. Integrity
  5. Relationships
  6. Sustainability
  7. Leadership.

Let’s assume these seven values form the basis around the globe for excellence. My clients come from all continents so I am hoping there is no cultural bias here.

If you are now thinking about working on this basis with your global virtual team I’d love this approach. You just have to remember that the meaning behind these words is culturally different so in a team setting you should ask your team how they show these values at work. Ask them for examples and stories. You might get different views on Leadership and Integrity but having the discussion or collecting stories will help the team see those differences.

►Building principles

Before you can formulate team principles ensure that you are all on the same page. Suggest every team member to contribute their wording. Even if it is messy. Create a team page or social media space where you can share your wording for values.

When you develop team principles it is important that you word them in the form of „We do…“ (active and positve). Example „We support each other achieve excellent quality by giving honest feedback.“

►Take photos, videos and allow images

When you see the values at work take photos and allow your team members to create videos or graphics. Put them on your coffee cups or shared file area. Be creative.

►Aligning language of your global virtual team

When you start this exercise you might notice that the language of your team members is not always aligned. They might say similar things with different words. Aligning the language of your global virtual team means that you come up with definitions, quotes and images. I often hear people telling me they work hard but I need to understand what in means in their context. In Switzerland working hard means getting up at 5 AM and being in the office at 7 AM and leaving the office at 5 PM to work in the community fire brigade or study in the evenings or raise four kids. In the US working hard might mean working 80 hours per week no matter when. In India „working hard“ might mean coming to the office even if you are unwell or even if your family needs you at home.

►Drop the assumptions

The more I work with global virtual teams the more I would advise you to drop your assumptions or at least to critically reflect them. You might only have a glimpse of understanding of the values of your team members until you have a personal conversation at a business conference at 2 AM in the morning. Sharing values requires trust and that is only built over time by people who show their values towards their colleagues constantly.

Liebe Freunde,
wir suchen immer noch nach einem deutschsprachigen Global Mobility Consultant für einen Kunden. Das solltest Du mitbringen:

– Master oder vergleichbarer Hochschulabschluss in International Business Administration, Human Resources Management, BWL, Psychologie, Finance, Jura oder Sprach- und Kulturwissenschaften
– Mindestens fünf Jahre Berufserfahrung, idealerweise im Personalwesen, davon mindestens zwei Jahre Berufserfahrung im Bereich internationale Mitarbeiterentsendungen
– Kenntnisse im Immigrations-, Steuer- und Sozialversicherungsrecht und in der internationalen Personalentwicklung
– Starke analytische Fähigkeiten und Freude am Umgang mit Zahlen und Berechnungen- Interkulturelle Kommunikationsstärke, Beratungs- und Verhandlungsgeschick, Überzeugungsfähigkeit
– Fähigkeit zu Priorisierung und vernetztem Denken, nachgewiesene Erfahrung in der Lösung komplexer Fälle
– Hohes Maß an Eigenmotivation und Selbstmanagement- Sehr gutes Beziehungsmanagement, Fähigkeit zum schnellen Aufbau persönlicher Netzwerke mit Kunden und Kollegen
– Fließende Deutsch- und Englischkenntnisse, weitere Fremdsprachenkenntnisse wünschenswert
– Fortgeschrittene Kenntnisse in Excel und Powerpoint- Kenntnisse in SAP HR oder PeopleSoft.

Wenn Du mehr wissen magst melde Dich doch bitte direkt bei angela@globalpeopletransitions.com.

 


Did you ever spend an intimate moment with your partner where he or she was telling you something that was important to them. You talk, sooth each other and you feel like giving everything to this loved person. Then she checks her phone. Or he gets up and gets a beer from the fridge.

Then out of nowhere you are getting frustrated, negative and even aggressive. You lost the place of love and went into the place of need. The atmosphere is ruined.

The same can happen at work. You thought you have a good relationship with a colleague or a manager and then one day out of the blue they shout at you. Or they send you a really long email how you disappointed them again and how you ruined their day.

Did you ever experience this?

What I have learned over the last three years of being an entrepreneur is that we can influence the way we respond in 80% of the time. In 20% of the time I still want to learn to stay calm and compassionate. Here are seven steps to responding in order to avoid negativity in relationships.

1) Take a break

Emily Bennington held a talk at the Powerhouse Zurich in September 2013 and explained the space between stimulus and response. In this area we can decide if we shout, cry or explode. Often we are losing control though and just act out.

We could pull us out of the situation and respond with compassion and love. Often when we get emotional it helps to remove ourselves from the situation and look at what is going on.

Ask yourself: “What do I need now to feel secure and loved again?”

 2) Respond by expressing your need

Instead of shouting back or answering with another long-winded email we could say “I understand that you are tired today but my need for order and a structured week gets messed up when we do not finish the housework on the weekend.”

To your colleague you could respond to the email saying: “I understand why you are angry but I’d prefer to discuss this in person. When can we talk?”

 

3) Listen to the signs of your body

Our bodies are featured with red lights. Some of us have been on the autobahn of our lives for too long though to see the red lights when they go on. After years of training as a coach and lots of sensitivity exercises I now recognize the red lights better.

You might feel dizzy in the stomach or head, your heartbeat increases, blood rushes into your head or your hands start to shiver.

When I feel overwhelmed with stress another indicator is severe back pain in the lower part of my back.

I listen to my body and when I notice any signs I take a note in my diary and ask myself what I need right now.

Sometimes it could just be water, food or a break but often it is an emotional need.

Sun Flowers
Give people more Flowers!

4) Let your written response simmer in your draft folder

I once in my young career made the mistake of answering all emails immediately. Everything always seemed urgent. Until I made a mistake and my manager gave me advice to let emails simmer in the draft folder. So now I have a rule not to send emails I wrote under emotional pressure for a minimum of twelve hours.

I risk to be considered slow. Most people who know me well already know that I must be thinking hard as I am usually VERY responsive and fast with email.

In 2015 I deleted at least ten emails the next morning or even two hours after they were written. Most of the time I recognized that I was talking to my inner worry monster, not the person who emailed me initially.

5) Have a conversation with your inner worry monster

Do you know anyone who likes negative feedback or criticism? I don’t. But I know that when I have a good relationship and someone gives me a feedback on what I could improve I am happy and thankful. UNLESS and here is the catch they put their finger right into the wound that says „Thou art not worthy.“ (you are a scam).

Millions of women (and a lot of men) are suffering from the imposture syndrome. Thank God I finally stopped dreaming that I did not pass university and have to take the math test again (which funnily enough was my best subject).

The worry monster attacks us when we are moving out of our comfort zone into unknown lands of skills we never had to master. Next to practicing daily it might help you to speak to your worry monster. Tell him all that you have done already to practice and how you will continue to do so. It could be that the worry monster appreciates your efforts.

 

6) Listen to guided meditations

Ok, I know that meditation is not everybody’s cup of tea but sometimes when the negative talk is too loud you need to hear another voice. Give yourself 5 minutes in the morning and listen to a guided meditation.

 

7) Go running or walking

A lot of people I know go running or walking to “get their head clear”. I think they alsIMG_0183o clear their hearts. Both exercises are helping your heart digest the emotional food it has been served. Maybe you are a very sensitive person. I often pick up emotions of my clients or they remind me of my own emotional state a few years back. I developed rituals to help my heart handle these emotions.

 

Tell us how you made a difference by responding with kindness and compassion instead of emotion and aggression?

 

Watch more:

 

By @angieweinberger

When I ask Zarah for her name we instantly connect. She laughs with me „Can we help you Madam?“. I have to laugh. Here’s a young refugee offering to help me bringing the IKEA bag with men’s shoes (in the right sizes) into the „distribution center“. Zarah wears a top that indicates she likes to go clubbing. It’s probably a donation she received in her last night’s interim camp in Serbia. Today she made it into the European Union. She’s with her husband. They beam at me.

I am going inside the white tent. She has to stay behind the table. She needs a warmer shirt size 36 I assume. Little chance that I find a fitting top right away but I find a sweater she is happy with. Later I see her again. Her English is fluent. I distribute scarves and hats at the time. I don’t ask a lot of questions but having her name helps me finding her in the crowd again. With the men it is harder. They all call me „friend“. I try to differentiate their faces. Holding up pants too big or too small, then in one box I find a pair of pregancy pants. The young man says „yes“ and laughts. It’s the first one that fits after I held up about five pairs. I pull out a sweater which looks a perfect fit for a stronger young man. „This is your style“. He smiles at me. „Thank you.“ „Pleasure“.

When I cannot find what we need and wish this place had a better structure so I could find pants and shoes in the right size I ask the volunteer woman who seems to have the supervision here.
„Men ask for shoes. Shall I go to storage. There was a delivery.“
„Yes, and can you bring women’s jackets too.“.
I need to get out of the small unorganized tent. It seems to be a waste of effort. So I become a deliverer. I walk with my torch between the storage and distribution tent.

When my IKEA bags are empty I go back to refill sleeping bags, mats, tents and blankets. The soft ones. I hand them to men. One at a time. We don’t want waste. Everyone is very grateful. A young men needs a baby sleeping bag. By the time I am back with a few of them and a bottle and a tent I don’t see him anymore. I hope his baby will be warm enough.

The interim camp in Rözke welcomes the refugees crossing the Serbian boarder. After they walk for another five kilometers they arrive and are given food, tea and a chance to rest.

Most of the refugees look tired but well groomed considering what they have been through. I am humbled. Thinking about how fast I complain on travel I do for fun or business.

It would have helped if we had more clarity on the process

"Mission One" - 11 SEPT 2015 - Action from Switzerland
“Mission One” – 11 SEPT 2015 – Action from Switzerland

On one of my deliveries two women in their early 20ies ask me about the busses. They look like Eritreans but then I cannot really tell because it is dark. Maybe they are from Syria, maybe not.

„We have heard rumors that people wait for eight hours for the bus in the heat. What happens if they keep us here for the three days? Will we be kept in a camp or arrested“. I have the impression they are alone. No husbands. „Please get onto a bus tomorrow. They will take you to a train station nearby and then you can move on.“

I understand that fingerprinting is an issue for many refugees and wish I had more current information. In their case I prioritize security. I ask them to go to the large blue and white tent so I can find them with a tent for themselves. When I get back I cannot see them. I wonder if they decided to walk to Szeged, the next town 10 km away. I did not ask for their names. I wish I had.

In Röszke giving a smile to a refugee or making them laugh by talking Arabic could be worth as much as a fleece blanket. I try to multitask. It works. We work on from 11 pm to 2 am. It feels like an hour. I can see that the number of men looking for pants or shoes is reduced and many refugees sleep in tents or outside. We speak to other volunteers. We build relationships to UNHCR staff from Hungary.

The morning already seems days away. We left from our hotel in Kecskemet where Gabor, the manager wishes us luck and tells us that he’ll pray for our mission. We are six volunteers today. The men have medical supplies, mats and blankets. The van I rented has 200 sleeping bags and lots of other donations. The backpacks we loaded last are well received and gone right after we are allowed to pass the police stop at the entrance.

We waited there for about an hour, giving out „snickers“ to the young officers who seem to be tired. They liked our van. I drive the van to the blue and white tent. We unloaded only what the tent required: Shoes for men, shampoo and toilet packs and a few sleeping bags. The first woman I meet with a child asks for cream. I cannot find it but she is happy for the toilet kit.

We unloaded all other donations go in the newly built storage tent. We help build up the storage tent in an organized way. Normally this field is used to grow plants. The storage tent is made in a field. We managed to keep sleeping bags, clothes clean and dry. Trucks from mainly German-speaking countries unloaded their donations during the day. A UNHCR staff from South America coordinates income and orders. I like her calm and structured approach. The warm weather helps to keep the donations dry but is also a threat to the refugees when they have to queue to get on to a bus.

Our four men Thomas, Balz, Edi and Patric left us to do other tasks. I feel they have more stamina. I am careful not to overwhelm myself. I take breaks when I need them. In a moment of frustration about not finding everything in the distribution tent I leave that space. There seem to be enough tired volunteers so I start to do the runs between the two tents.

The volunteer experience shows me that our support can be very useful if we keep certain measures and have contacts we can trust on the ground. If you consider volunteering I’d advise you have a conversation with Gabrielle or myself first. We need Arabic, Farsi, Urdu speakers and drivers. If you’d like to come on a “mission” to Eastern Europe, you should commit to at least four days as you probably need a day to rest once you return.

If you would like to understand how you can support ACTION FROM SWITZERLAND please join the Facebook Group of Action from Switzerland.

Here is also a nice summary of our support by watson.ch.

 

war-953246_960_720This year the refugee „crisis“ has been dominating German-speaking media. Now there are signs that we are taking a new spin to the topic. There is support from volunteers, there are positive conversations about the refugees. I support giving refugees language education and a work permit as soon as possible. Mainly because in Germany and Switzerland we have more work than people who are willing to do the work. We have more than enough space, housing and we can actually help raise children.

We need to consider what we all can contribute to support and I think we can start with small acts of kindness. In Iceland people offered room to leave and now the government says they would like to take in more refugees.

What I thought about as I discussed the idea of support was that in such situations we tend to give the responsibility to governments, official volunteer organizations and even the police. The policemen I know (probably with one exception) hardly ever speak as many languages as I do. My even small vocabulary and skill in Arabic could come in handy when we speak to and listen to Syrians.

I have friends who are native speakers in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu and remember that once I listened to a Beduin women in Egypt and even though I did not fully understand her she told me her story of how she lost her daughter. I gave her my scarve. She could not walk anymore. The pain of losing her child had made her sick. If we could listen and speak to the refugees who come to Europe we could help them learn German and French and integrate.

We could probably also help them with their traumas and grief. My friend S. said he cried when he saw the pictures of the refugees. Me too. I had shed a lot of tears last week. I don’t have a TV but even the stories on social media, stories of support and stories of hope against the negative neo-nazi operations …even those stories made me cry. At the moment I don’t feel like crying anymore. I want to support, but as often I feel numbed and overwhelmed. Not sure where to start so I started with a tweet.

If you are a #refugee and have come to #Zurich we can help you with administrative and language problems.

From that tweet a lot more actions evolved. We already have a project group. Keep tuned and let me know if you want to know more.