German-Polish team building - A successful example in the firm Europoles GmbH & Co. KG

German-Polish team building - A successful example in the firm Europoles GmbH & Co. KG
Andrea Mewaldt interkulturelles Training Polen
intercultural-trainer Poland-CEE K.Huebner

Poland is a neighbouring country. This leads one to assume that business between Germans and Poles automatically runs smoothly. In principle, this is true: As the economic figures of recent years show, German-Polish business is doing well. Cooperation between the two countries is becoming ever closer. However, there are a few things that should be taken into account from the outset.

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ti communication in Zurich - On site for you - in Switzerland & worldwide

ti communication in Zurich - On site for you - in Switzerland & worldwide

NEW: ti communication in Switzerland! ti communication is your local team for international success! After opening our agency in China in January of this year, ti communication has now launched its bureau in Switzerland. In the interview on the next page you‘ll find out more about ti communication in Switzerland and Dorothea Hegner, your contact person in Zurich.

ti communication: How do ti communication customers profit from the new Switzerland office?
Dorothea Hegner: Firstly, especially the Swiss customers will profit, but also those from Southern Germany and Liechtenstein, who can now enjoy more intensive and comprehensive support locally: Nothing can take place of a personal conversation. The proximity to our customers is particularly useful in more complex mandates and projects that we can coordinate and operate group-wide, according to uniform standards. Existing customers in Germany also profit from the extended network, because they have access to additional, highly qualified trainers for training sessions on Switzerland as needed.

The same language – the same culture? Is there even a need for intercultural training within the context of Germany and Switzerland?
You bring up a touchy subject. “With Germans? I have no problem at all with them”, is something I hear a lot, and in my work as an intercultural trainer, I see many good examples of functioning collaboration between Swiss and Germans. Nonetheless, there are cultural differences, especially regarding communication, that repeatedly lead to misunderstandings, tension and conflict. While personnel representatives immediately think of intercultural preparation before sending someone to China, hardly anyone would think it would also be an especially good idea for an extended stay in Switzerland and that becoming familiar with Swiss culture can happen much quicker and with much less friction loss. To assume that the same language = the same culture would be a false conclusion, because even the language itself does exhibit differences. In addition: In February, the Swiss took on the mass emigration initiative, which, in part, is harsh criticism of the Germans, which, in turn, makes German specialists insecure and can affect their work. In such a case, it helps to be better able to read and understand the Swiss and interact with them more confidently.

How does ti communication fit your personality? What do you like about your collaboration?
I am an entrepreneur at heart and primarily think from the viewpoint of the customer: What does he really need to attain goals as optimally as possible, how can we support him best, and which services would I want in his situation? In addition, values such as honesty, teamwork and analytical and strategic thinking are essential. I can identify very well with ti communication’s professionalism and concept of service and fulfil the high demands on quality our customers have in an optimal way.

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World Lacrosse Championship - ti communication trainer Philip Werner on his intercultural experiences as a participant of this sporting event

World Lacrosse Championship - ti communication trainer Philip Werner on his intercultural experiences as a participant of this sporting event

In July of this year, one of the largest ball sport tournaments took place in Denver (USA): the men’s world lacrosse championships.

You missed the big event? You’ve never even heard of lacrosse? Well, you aren’t alone. In Germany and all of Europe, lacrosse has not yet hit the mainstream. But you can seize the opportunity and follow me into the heart of the lacrosse world and discover the intercultural challenges surrounding such a trip.

What is lacrosse and where does it come from?
Lacrosse is a team sport that is played with a stick equipped with a mesh net and a tennis ball-sized hard rubber ball. Two teams of ten field players each try to score more goals than the opponent. Body contact, including with the stick, is permitted. This ball sport was invented by the Native Americans on the east coast of the USA. Via labyrinthine paths, missionaries and English boarding schools, the sport, which originated as a Native American healing ritual, found its way back to the elite east-coast colleges of the USA.

Today, lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in the USA, and even internationally, new national associations are cropping up at an amazing speed. Just 30 years ago, only four teams took part in the world championships. Meanwhile, the event has become a great festival of nations, with participants from almost all regions of the world. This year, Uganda was the first African team to compete.

On the field as an intercultural trainer
As an intercultural trainer, during my participation as an active player in the biggest world lacrosse championships to date, I had, of course, my trainer’s glasses on and was able to experience quite a bit. As early as the opening ceremony, cultural differences with regard to clothing and behaviour quickly became evident. The Asian teams seemed to shy away from the sun, and we Germans remained in the shade on the simple grounds of professional preparation for the tournament, while the team from Uganda, armed with drums, danced in the sun for an extended period and completely savoured the event. The Norwegian team showed up in sweaters of the same name, the Scots came in kilts, the Austrians – much to the joy of the American spectators – all wore lederhosen and the Ugandan players trumped everyone with their colourful tribal robes. What was behind the multifaceted fashion show? Self-inflicted stereotyping, perhaps, yet without a negative aftertaste. Generally, the spirit of the games was always positive, and everyone applauded and cheered the other nations.

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Fail in foreign trade - Ten ways to waste money abroad: The seventh case: Put your sales force in charge of international sales

Fail in foreign trade - Ten ways to waste money abroad: The seventh case: Put your sales force in charge of international sales

An article of InterGest, partner of ti communication

Oh, how beautiful it is in Switzerland! The mountains are im­pressive, the chocolate is divine, and Swiss German has a sympathe­tic sound to it. And that’s not all – the citizens of this Alpine nation also have plenty of money and are enthusiastic consumers. So what could be more natural for a company in Southern Ger­many to conquer at least German-speaking Switzerland, and to sell the universally beloved products made by Pfleiderer GmbH there as well?

Mr. Pfleiderer Junior is the third generation of his family to ma­nufacture high-quality fitted kitchens near Lake Constance, on the Swiss border. His kitchens – high quality from German producers – are very popular but expensive, which makes them practically per­fect for the Swiss market. Until now, no major sales activities had been geared toward Switzerland but the fact could not be ignored that more and more Swiss consumers wanted Pfleiderer kitchens and were beginning to travel to Germany and order the kitchens there. It was a lucrative business with strong growth potential.

Mr. Pfleiderer decided to get down to brass tacks, and he ima­gined supplying all of Switzerland with his high-quality kitchens in the immediate future. He already had a tax representative in the country, because he needed one for his kitchen installation activi­ties. The next step, namely founding his own Swiss branch, could therefore be done fairly easy by the same local tax advisor.

For cost reasons, Mr. Pfleiderer decided not to have a showroom at first; instead, sales would take place through local trade fairs and exhibitions, as well as a direct sales approach he had designed himself according to the “Vorwerk” model, which he used very successfully in Germany. His skilled, well-trained salespeople just had to gain access to the potential customer’s house or apartment, and then they could build a virtual kitchen for the amazed customer on the spot, using his proprietary computer simulation program. Once they had gotten that far, an order was usually within reach. Another advantage was that, thanks to fairly high profit mar­gins, he was able to live well on just a few orders. Now he planned to transfer this approach to Switzerland, and there was no reason to expect anything less than a complete success.

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The World Cup in Brazil: The Rise of Brazil, or a Missed Opportunity?

The World Cup in Brazil: The Rise of Brazil, or a Missed Opportunity?

First published in SIETAR eJournal, edition 06/2014.
An article by our Senior Trainer Cristina Ramalho, which encourages reflection on the economic and social situation in Brazil, even after the end of the World Cup.

When the FIFA committee announced that Brazil would host the 2014 World Cup Football Championship, the football-crazed nation went into a state of general euphoria. "We will show the world that not only can we play football masterfully, but we can also build great stadiums, a reliable infrastructure, and, above all, show that we are the best hosts in the world!” This anticipation and positive attitude were found in most of the people shortly after the announcement. It flowed through all the political classes and the different population strata. The World Cup has been seen as an opportunity for the nation to rise from the role of an emerging market country into the first division. Parallel to stadium construction, the expansion of a sustainable infrastructure has also been planned. 

The Union of Architects and Engineers’ Internet portal states, “The World Cup 2014 in Brazil is the greatest opportunity to bring the country into the modern era. Brazil not only has the ability to show that it can create organised structures, but also, through its economic power, has the potential to attract new investments.1

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TNT: Tri-National Training - Multicultural team building workshops for Eurocopter

intercultural trainer trinational training France Germany Spain
Client:EurocopterTrainer:Gaëlle PiernikarchObjectives:Accompanying the integration of Eurocopter‘s third pillar in Spain by developing better understanding and communication amongst employees as well as tools and strategies for effective management of cultural differences between the Spanish, German and French teamsTiming:A half-day kick-off workshop followed by 4 two-day workshops in Albacete, SpainTarget group:Employees from different business areas and hierarchical levels from the three locations of Albacete, Donauwörth and MarignaneSituation/Idea

Eurocopter is a Business Unit within the EADS Group with assembly lines in Germany, France and Spain as well as subsidiaries worldwide.

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Fail in foreign trade - Ten ways to waste money abroad: The sixth case - Don’t worry about the fact that your customers abroad speak another language and have a different mentality

Fail in foreign trade - Ten ways to waste money abroad: The sixth case - Don’t worry about the fact that your customers abroad speak another  language and have a different mentality

An article of InterGest, partner of ti communication

Mr. Schmidt had always been someone with a strong affinity toward Great Britain, and he was particularly fond of London. Whenever he can, he flies across the Channel to spend a few free days there.

Mr. Schmidt is also an entrepreneur, and he manufactures all ty­pes of locks. The cylinder locks and padlocks from Schmidt GmbH are known for their quality and their multifunctional utility.

Back in London one fine day, Mr. Schmidt is in a lock store and realises that his locks would actually be well suited to the British market. He wonders why he never thought of it before, and at that moment he begins to develop a strategy for entering the market.

Back in Remscheid, where locks have already been built with great success for years, Mr. Schmidt calls together his team to announce the new expansion strategy in the United Kingdom. A working group is founded immediately, and the ladies and gentlemen start assigning the various tasks internally – a powerful troop of German specialists is now planning their market entry for the UK.

In one of the subsequent strategy meetings, Mr. Kleinschmidt pipes up and – how could he? – expresses some concern about whether it might be a good idea to talk with a consultant in England in order to adapt the planned marketing and sales materials “to the English taste.”

Mr. Schmidt’s response to this suggestion is almost aggressive, and he points out to Mr. Kleinschmidt that he has been travelling to London for years, is practically a native speaker, and knows the English people through and through. When someone mentions that Great Britain includes more than just England, Mr. Schmidt dismisses them immediately, saying, “I know what I’m doing here”.

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Security Training for Business Travellers and Expatriates - ti communication presents its partner, Riskworkers

Security Training for Business Travellers and Expatriates - ti communication presents its partner, Riskworkers

Often, it is the little things that could cost you your life: taking the wrong exit on the motorway, unexpectedly reaching into your jacket pocket, pressing the shutter release on a camera – in some regions of the world, these things can mean big trouble. In the security training course offered by the Munich firm Riskworkers GmbH, employees learn how to get themselves out of precarious situations – or not get into them in the first place.

»Don’t give anything. Even ignore especially pitiable people.« This simple instruction for dealing with beggars in Brazil is one of the ground rules that the Munich-based consulting company Riskworkers passes on to business travellers. »If you go weak and pull out your wallet, you’ll be surrounded by a throng of beggars,« explains Oliver Schneider, managing partner of Riskworkers GmbH. »And crowds of people can quickly become dangerous.« Safety before sympathy is a rule that also applies to places where, as a foreigner, particularly one from the west, you have to expect to be a target based on your nationality alone. That is why it can be a good idea in some places to actually step on the gas instead of offering first aid after a road accident, states Schneider – even if the accident is not your fault: »It wouldn’t be the first time that an innocent victim was lynched.«

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Internationalization needs structure - Interview with Gerhard Hain and Anna Corbett

Internationalization needs structure - Interview with Gerhard Hain and Anna Corbett

Today, internationalization and globalization are among the dynamic factors of business. What moves companies to take advantage of your intercultural training courses?

Gerhard Hain: There are a number of typical hurdles in the intercultural realm that can influence business success. Just one example: In China, it is considered unethical to demand the fulfilment of a contract if the framework conditions have changed – that is a conflict of values with which should be dealt with in good time. Another example, also from Asia, relates to communication. Instead of the duty to provide information that is customary in Germany, in India there is a duty to obtain information – you ask about what you need to know. When German executives are the last to find out about important issues, they come to the false conclusion that their employees are sabotaging them.

Anna Corbett: But the most common example is probably time culture. Here, it’s insulting to keep the next person you are meeting with waiting. On the other hand, in other countries, it is impossible to abruptly end a conversation with someone in order to start the next appointment on time.  

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Even the Small Ones need Support

Even the Small Ones need Support

Frequently, in small and medium-sized companies, professional preparation of employees and their families for foreign assignments is out of the question, due to costs. This is cost-cutting at a high cost.

Multinational corporations employ intercultural specialists to prepare employees and their families for expat assignments. However, the situation is often quite different in medium-sized companies: Many mid-sized firms can often only find a few or sometimes even only one employee willing to go abroad. You would expect the respective candidate to be provided preparation assistance and fussed over. Instead, professional expat preparation is frequently out of the question, since training costs are seen as separate from the consequential costs of a failed foreign assignment, or appear too high in relation to the personnel budget. However: Not preparing expatriates for the special circumstances in their new culture is saving at the wrong end.

What selection criteria play a role?

First of all, it is especially important to select the right person for a foreign assignment. Frequently, professional expertise and language skills, as well as a willingness to leave the country for extended periods, are seen as the most important criteria for employees to be sent abroad. However, these three factors alone are not enough, and repeatedly receive too much emphasis. Additional factors crucial to a specific situation can, for instance, be brought to light through intercultural training courses.

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