Author Archives: Nabeha

Last week, we talked about why building professional relationships is harder for expats. Now let’s discuss another side of the coin – how to create an inclusive environment for expats. If you were Dr. Rainer Schulz you’d probably ask yourself what you could do to build a safe and collaborative environment with people from different cultures.

1- Deal with your Gollum

If you are an expat leader and want to create an environment where people trust each other, you will need to show vulnerability and role-model trustworthy behaviour. If you wish to be trusted you might have to show your weaknesses, your Achilles’ heel and let your team know how they can best support you. You might have to explain what triggers your emotional side, what makes you feel weak. You might even have to accept that you are not a superheroine or hero and that nobody apart from your “Gollum” is expecting this of you. My advice is that you seek coaching to work with the inner critic and put him in his cot.

2) Work on your Implicit Assumptions and Biases

It could also be that you have formed assumptions about the host culture or about certain behaviors that are not appropriate and could end up impacting your relationship with your international team.
One way to address this is to bring up your implicit assumptions for discussion in a learning environment. This gives you the opportunity to not only correct your biases but also learn more about the host culture and its nuances. In my view, it always helps to attend intercultural competence development training.

3) Reduce your Language Complex

Moving to another culture often comes with a form of language limitation. It could be that the host language is entirely different than your mother tongue or that you are speaking the same language with a different accent and different cultural references. For example, American English often uses references from Baseball in every slang, which doesn’t translate into our context in Europe.

Sometimes even a small difference in how you pronounce a word can create an entirely different meaning for a sensitive listener. Humor, sarcasm or irony often do not translate so well and we haven’t even discussed the pace of speech, tone of voice, the use of silence and interruptions. I try to listen more in conversations and take notes and often I have a hard time then to say something right away without the proper reflection time.

The older I get, the more introverted I feel and I find it quite hard to follow a meeting. I prefer to express myself through the written word. So, often I walk out of a meeting a bit lost. Maybe you know this feeling. I wish sometimes I could respond faster but the trouble is that knowing everything I know I need proper reflection time to come up with a good solution. My brain goes in overdrive.

You could make an effort to learn the host language better, use common phrases, get the dialect right and pronounce names correctly. This requires that you learn the names of everyone; from your clients, team members and colleagues, to the receptionist and mail person.

4) Accept diverse Working Styles

Effective global teams allow for a variety of working styles and priority setting. However, many managers prefer to work with staff members who function like them. Unconsciously they find it easier. You can move out of your comfort zone and discuss differences in style with your team members directly. You could also address your preferences and request that team members accommodate your style to a certain degree or you could agree the checkpoints that your need in order to feel safe.

Also, if you prefer to be included in certain communications you should address that. When you are in your first 90 days with your new team in the host company, I recommend a symbolic kick-off meeting where you discuss roles and responsibilities, collaboration rules and principles and develop the short-term action plan together (assuming you move to a participatory, egalitarian culture such as Switzerland or Holland).

5) Co-create Culture-Appropriate Roadmaps

Nowadays, discussing vision and mission is often perceived as an alibi exercise by management as the pace of change hardly allows for a long-term vision or strategy 80ies-style. Hence, I recommend you focus more on the next six months and weekly actions to get closer to your vision. You should still create a vision board for yourself and maybe paint a picture or write about your vision. You could also write a mission statement for your area of responsibility. For your team though it is probably more important that you are fully present, your best self and have their back when they need you.

If you wish to work on all of the above you could join our RockMeRetreat starting 21 November and ending 28 November 2019 in Kressbronn, Southern Germany. I’m available on 28 June 2019 and 19 July 2019 for personal meetings to discuss your participation. Email me now for your reserving slot: angela@globalpeopletransitions.com

Or sign up here for a personal conversation with me:

Have a great week ahead!

Angie

PS: During the RockMeRetreat I will support clients to overcome these challenges by applying the 4 P’s of building professional relationships (Purpose, Preparation, Presence and Promises).


I’m sure you are aware that I have been championing body learning for some time, one of last month’s club sandwiches focused on harnessing emotional intelligence in conjunction with Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) to become a better people leader.

This time, I would like to focus on the work of pioneering body learning coach and my coach educator Boudewijn Vermeulen.

Vermeulen developed a holistic approach to executive coaching that meshed popular communication techniques with body learning. His method led to higher coaching efficacy and speed and to this day is one of the most effective techniques for learning and personal and professional growth.

Boudewijn Vermeulen developed a structured method to improve relationships: the Vermeulen Analysis Model (VAM). His approach involved several aspects that can be grouped into these four areas:

  • structured communication,
  • relationship work,
  • body learning and
  • reflection of experiences.

The VAM builds on the realization that experiences and personal themes materialize in a “critical relationship”. It requires clients to undergo the “experiment”, so to say, and then reflect upon those experiences to form the pertinent theory – this positions the coach as more of a companion than a 1-to-1 dispenser of information.

In light of this emphasis on the journey of the experiment, the self-reflection, and learning, the Boudewijn Vermeulen method is particularly effective at editing relationships which, as previously mentioned, are the mirror of all issues.

When every issue is a relationship problem, it becomes paramount that one understand and analyze relationships all the time with the goal of maintaining and improving them. Under the guidance of a skilled coach, the client writes down their feelings about a relationship: what they regret, what they resent, what they are grateful for, their needs from the relationship and their disappointments and fulfillment.

The coach can then guide and help the client distill these findings to approach the relationship in a positive way again. The method highlights just how crucial it is to dive into the complexity of human relationships. Vermeulen built his method with the knowledge of the deep psychology of Carl Gustav Jung. He also learned from others.

The Vermeulen Analysis Model is something one learns only under the guidance of a coach trained in the method. The key is to incorporate the techniques into your lives through weekly practices and repetition – the only habit can create the kind of self-improvement that lasts.

Communication, enhanced relationships and any type of learning of this sort is something that comes intrinsically to everyone, you just have to listen and learn. That is what effective coaches can teach you: how to listen and learn.

With our busy lives, it can be hard to carve out time in our established routines for these sort of tangential but essential learning activities, which is why I have incorporated all these communications, relationship and body learning methods into the core of the RockMeRetreat

The RockMeRetreat will be offered from 21 November to 28 November 2019. It is a seven-day leadership retreat in Southern Germany, where you will get to network with other Expat Leaders and Professionals and develop your global leader competency.

The RockMeRetreat is designed to amplify your success on your chosen career path and help you move towards the breakthrough you need to become a Rockstar in your chosen field!

Sign up here for entering the conversation with me. If you wish to speak to me directly, please book an appointment by replying to this email.

Kind regards,
Angie.

 

As our workplaces rapidly embrace international professionals and multiculturalism and become more diverse, an interesting development has come to light that I feel needs to be addressed at the earliest: the process of feedback in an intercultural context and how to tackle its many flaws.

These days there is this idea made common in several industries, particularly the tech sector, that abrasive, instant feedback is a way to stop beating about the bush and giving it straight to the recipient, sometimes even in public spaces. The idea being that the pressure created by the ‘tough love’ will motivate employees into bringing out their best, something that even Hollywood has glamorized with films like The Devil Wears Prada.

The reality is that there are issues with providing instant feedback, the most frequent one being that you fail to realize if the issue you are raising is concerning a person’s individual personality, or a cultural trait or was purely situational.

The second common issue is that feedback works differently in different cultures. Basically, your attempt at it may not even register, or come across in a negative manner. Americans, for instance, generally pepper in several positive comments before raising a negative one, while most Europeans are straightforward and critical about the whole thing. In a lot of Asian countries, feedback is discussed implicitly, and only provided in private settings and not in the public workspace. Do you see now how instant feedback could be misconstrued in an intercultural context? In fact, a lot of the latest discussions talk about ending the ‘traditional’ concept of feedback altogether, as it has shown time and again to not help improve performance. You can read about it here.

An important bit from the last paragraph was how feedback was culturally handled in Asian countries, in a one-on-one setting. It is actually now considered a preferable alternative to traditional feedback sheets. Combining that with the continuous feedback style is key to fostering a better relationship between employee and manager. It boosts the turnover rate for improvement as managers no longer have to wait for an arbitrary amount of time to discuss and motivate an employee, then wait another arbitrary amount of time before iterating on that previous session. Any undesirable behaviour or poor performance is not given time to grow as it could evolve into something worse.

One-on-one meetings further help this regular improvement along – these sessions allow for a more candid and diverse discussion that isn’t restricted to whatever rubric was set up on a feedback form. Combined, these two techniques can help managers bring out the best in their employees and build a more positive and constructive feedback cycle that is morale and productivity boosting. It is essential that this entire process be made a conversation, a two-way interaction rather than a session where a manager shares their rating of their employee’s skills. This is especially important as recent research and studies are showing what has been a constant point of discussion: that human beings are incapable of reliably rating themselves or other humans. You can read the thorough breakdown over at the Harvard Business Review, who make a strong case against the current practices of ‘feedback culture’.

Finally, I’d like to build on the concept of feedback but in a slightly tangential way: the idea behind ratings. Specifically, students rating their lecturers or teachers. Ratings have become an integral part of modern culture, we rate everything from food to places to car rides to memes. However, the entire concept is highly reductive and strips context and depth from any situation. For instance, giving an Uber driver driving dangerously a 1-star is not enough of a response, while a 1-star for a shoddy car will not fix whatever was broken in the vehicle. These rating systems are gamifying a complex thing and are fundamentally broken.

Coming back to students rating lecturers, I’m sure you can now easily spot the possibilities of exploiting the system to the detriment of the lecturer. Is a lecturer bad because he gave your essay a poor grade? Does that one poor grade negate an entire teaching period’s efforts? And is the student able to rate the knowledge areas she doesn’t even know existed?

All that nuance is lost when reduced to a rating system. Additionally, most lecturers are working in a gig-based economy, just like those Uber drivers, and they are at the mercy of these broken ratings system. So often those who entertain and let you pass easily will receive good feedback but those who challenge you and make you work harder will get negative feedback. And where do you think you learned more?

Given that we don’t know what we don’t know and our multi-facetted intercultural contexts, don’t you think feedback is overrated and an outdated concept?

Unless there’s an extenuating circumstance, don’t dignify these ratings systems by assuming they’re real feedback.

Let’s work towards reworking the ratings and feedback biases that drive so many of modern workplaces.
In our RockMeRetreat you will learn more about our bias in decision making and how we are less rational than we would like to think.

You will also learn methods that are more effective in helping yourself and others grow to your full potential.

I look forward to having you on board.

Kind regards,
Angie Weinberger

PS: I have a limited number of seats available for the RockMeRetreat 2019. I reserved 28 June and 5 July to discuss your goals and questions for the RockMeRetreat.


Please email l if you wish to have a conversation with me. These meetings are free of charge for readers of the Club Sandwich, RockMeApp users and obviously current clients.

I found myself discussing this topic with a lot of people over the last few weeks, and have decided to break it down for readers in this week’s Club Sandwich. Let’s get right to it!

I want to brief you all about Global Competency and how it is determining the growth of skills in international professionals. As I also describe in the Global Mobility Workbook, ‘Global Competency is the ability to work effectively in a global, complex environment with a high level of stress, while achieving goals sustainably and in accordance with your own resources’. It is a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills, reflected experiences and body learning.

What are these skills? There are a diverse set of abilities that can help your global competency, ranging from developing your language skills (learning a foreign language is great!) to effectively using digital media (Social Media platforms & video conferencing). 

Other skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills also help cement your Global Competency. That last one feeds into digital media skills as well, since most modern communication happens over Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (and their corporate equivalents). In fact, I believe media competency is critical for any globally active professional in these technology-driven times. As I mentioned last time you can also practice logical thinking through tests and games. My grandma plays Scrabble against herself. She’s doing great and beats me every time with her 97 years of age.

It’s a journey of constant self-improvement that will keep your Global Competency up to scratch! 

You might think you know everything already to get by. I believe though that we all need to engage in continuous, lifelong learning if we don’t want to be replaced by “Virginia Robot” soon.

If you want to develop your skills and keep track of your learning goals you can use the Rockmeapp to do that. As a reader of the Global People Club Sandwich your 12months subscription to the Rockmeapp is free of charge. You will also get a special rate for coaching sessions with me.

I wish you all a productive week.Global Competency also requires rethinking yourself in a global arena. Here are three priorities:

1) Analyze and improve the way you build professional relationships, learn to be an active listener to gain better access to people of other cultures. 
2) Reflect on your unconscious bias. Where could it play a role? Have you potentially disadvantaged a woman or a person with a minority background through your implicit assumptions about gender roles or cultural supremacy?
3) Check and write down stereotypes and work on your attitude towards people of other cultures.

If you want to develop your skills and keep track of your learning goals you can use the Rockmeapp to do that. As a reader of the Global People Club Sandwich your 12months subscription to the Rockmeapp is free of charge. You will also get a special rate for coaching sessions with me.


One of my clients asked me why I did not spend more time explaining tests and preparing you for tests. One of the reasons is that tests are out of my radar a bit. Yesterday I forced myself through a psychometric test. As you know I sometimes go through interviews too. First of all, going through the process helps me sympathize with you. Secondly, I constantly look for new projects and sometimes new projects means to apply for a full-time position.

What I did not know is that nowadays application processes are designed to test your patience and perseverance more than your work experience or actual knowledge of the subject matter at hand. It starts with all the duplication of data you have to enter in the applicant tracking system and ends with the surprise of being invited to an online test that is supposed to last two hours…and then takes up almost your whole Sunday.

I followed the advice of the recruiter and went through all trial tests on my couch in my PJ first thing Sunday morning. I felt like I was not in my right mind and that I could not do most of the math tasks without a pen, paper and a calculator. Then I was disturbed by an alarm clock. I had to get up and lost time. I also felt it took me very long to understand the English texts which made me think that the tests are biased against non-native speakers. I did not know how elaborate this system was. By the time I finally started the real test I only had one wish: Get through this and see it as a self-experiment.

I understood that there was no deduction for giving the wrong answer and sometimes the last questions were the easier ones. I knew I wanted to finish all questions (even by guessing) and I tried to keep an open attitude even though my ego had been hurt already a fair bit.

I started with the personality test as I figured this would be easiest. Then I did the hardest one for me which was the inductive reasoning test, next the numerical analysis test and then a test where you had to read a paragraph and answer questions to it.

I stumbled upon this video. You might find it useful https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h36cpwlslHk&feature=youtu.be

What I found strange is that there was no communication on when and whether I will see the result of my efforts and my lost Sunday. Companies should tell you such stuff. Also, they should tell you that these tests are made for people with Einstein’s IQ. I wrote down a few first tips for you when you are invited to psychometric tests:

1) Go through all the sample and practice test the same company offers.
2) Sign up to their mailing list for future challenges and new test questions.
3) Read all the instructions carefully and check if they have a version in your native language.
4) Make sure you block about three hours and have ZERO disturbance.
5) Take short breaks between the tests and drink water.
6) Make sure you actually have a simple calculator.*
7) If you expect more tests it might be worthwhile buying preparatory tests or books especially if you are a dinosaur like me who has not been to school for more than 20 years.

Here are also two links that might help you. I am not affiliated with those companies but they look genuine.

If you have further links and tips to share please let me know.

http://www.psychometricinstitute.com.au/Psychometric-Test-Guide/Psychometric-Test-Tips.html

http://career-advice.careerone.com.au/job-interview-tips/psychometric-testing/top-10-tips-to-prepare-for-a-psychometric-test/article.aspx

This week, I would like you to challenge yourself by running a self-experiment on a topic that feels like a challenge for you. Please share your experience with me. Thank you.