Using intercultural potentials

The globalization of the economy demands that companies employ executives and staff who are capable of taking on responsible positions in foreign branch offices and subsidiaries and of executing cross-border projects with staff members from different countries.

I support executives, employees and teams through coaching and training, to develop new behavioral and action patterns which, in turn, help them to adapt to a new environment and to handle any related uncertainties appropriately. Courses are held in German, English and French.

Intercultural Competence

I instruct clients about intercultural competence in the form of training or individual coaching. The basis of my work is a three-part model:

  1. Know-how - about cultural differences
  2. Mindset - towards other cultures
  3. Tools  - that can be applied immediately

Intercultural Competence

The interaction of these three elements initiates a development process that provides the proficiency to deal quickly with intercultural situations.

Example

A company is expanding its business abroad. Executives and staff increasingly have to cooperate with colleagues from different countries. There are issues of comprehension and communication as well as frustration and conflicts.

Intercultural Coaching

In order to guarantee the success of a foreign assignment or the management of a cross-border project, it is recommended – in addition to intercultural training – to support leaders and staff with specialized, situation-specific one-on-one coaching. Current questions and issues can, thus, be addressed ‘just in time’ via phone, mail or personal meetings. Examples of common topics include handling conflict situations, preparation of meetings, client discussions or supervisor meetings, uncertainties in dealing with employees of other nationalities, lack of understanding of their behavior.

Example

A German manager has been assigned to implement an important project in France and Italy. After the initial enthusiasm has faded, the project slows down and friction increases, jeopardizing the projected completion date.

Intercultural Team Development

The more foreign locations a company has, the more frequently its teams have to convene – teams that consist of employees of highly diverse nationalities. This composition of international and intercultural backgrounds makes team management very complex – especially when dealing with a purely virtual group that meets only via telephone conference. The aim of intercultural team development is to team up the members, to align them with a consistent, constructive strategy and to utilize their strengths towards increasing their performance capabilities. This, in turn, leads to a clear focus on the opportunities, such as the innovative and creative potential of the team.

Example

A company is launching new software in all its locations at the same time. The German project manager is coordinating a team of employees from many different national backgrounds. Again and again, some of the countries fail to meet deadlines. The project manager loses control of the project management.

Tools for Intercultural Potential

In an intercultural context, the involved parties often focus very strongly on ‘what does not work’, instead of seeing the opportunities and potential. Ironically, the intercultural context is precisely the ideal situation to develop extraordinary ideas, to learn new ways of thinking and behavior, or merely to let the imagination be inspired. The tools which I developed make it possible to utilize this potential.

Cross Culture Innovations: This tool serves to utilize and bring together the ideas and creative potential of employees of different origins, for instance, to generate product or service innovations.

Multicultural Personality Coaching: This tool develops the specific cultural potential of employees with an immigrant background. They can become important ‘door openers’ for foreign markets or ‘companions’ for employees who are taking on projects abroad.

Culture Switching: helps executives and employees to move comfortably between different cultural behavior patterns. They learn to take a superordinated point of view that supports their navigation of cultural differences. They learn to recognize opportunities in an intercultural environment and to put it to practical use for their own project.

 

Example

The project manager of a German company with Indian roots is assigned to expedite the implementation of a project in China. In order to do so, he has to win over the Chinese employees. He succeeds in completing the project on time, without any major problems.

German-French Cooperation

Due to my strong connections to Germany and France, I am committed to increasing the understanding and cooperation between organizations of both countries. Unfortunately, there still is much misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about what ‘the other side’ thinks and does. Joint projects still fail due to perceived cultural differences, such as a diverging understanding of leadership or because of differing procedures. I supervise negotiations, accompany French and German executives while they are managing intercultural challenges, and support German-French teams in their efforts to reduce friction points and avoid financial losses. These are very significant tasks considering there are more than 2,700 German companies in France and over 1,600 French companies in Germany.

Example

A German and a French bank are planning a closer collaboration and want to set up a common Internet platform together. A German-French project team begins to work. However, after only a short time, tensions arise on both sides over proposed procedures made by the opposite side. Both parties threaten to derail the cooperation.

Cross-Border Projects

This topic deals with the concept and execution of projects which have to be implemented in several different countries. In most cases, projects are strongly aligned with the source culture and fail to utilize and incorporate cross-border capabilities. Therefore, the strategy, implementation and communication must be designed towards eliminating problems early on. I offer a ‘checking process’ that lets you test your project for its cross-border compatibility, and I will also coach you in the next implementation phase.

Example

A company plans to conduct an internal competition for achieving energy savings in its headquarters and all its locations abroad. The German marketing department drafts the process – certain countries provide zero feedback.

Leadership and Communications Competence

In an intercultural environment, leadership is one of the most critical success factors. Why? Because the type of supervision dictates whether employees with different backgrounds and from different companies will succeed in cooperating or will actually obstruct each other. In the case of mergers and acquisitions – domestically and internationally – the key factors of leadership and communications are crucial.

I guide executives through change processes with individual coaching. Examples of topics:

  • Clarification and definition of the leadership role;
  • Further development of communications and conflict management capabilities;
  • Expansion of the behavioral repertoire;
  • Constructive handling of differences and reinforcement of one’s own flexibility and ability to reflect.

The Culture Switching-Tool enables executives to assume a superordinated position that permits the integration of new viewpoints. This leads to a comprehension of differences and the necessary flexibility to maintain focus on the goals.

Example

A German company expects the Chinese plant manager of its Chinese branch to demonstrate more conflict-solving capabilities and assertiveness when dealing with European staff members. However, with every new conflict situation, the plant manager withdraws and, thus, refuses to participate.