Posts Tagged With: integration

Working in a multi-cultural team

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Working in multi-cultural Teams whether face to face or virtually is becoming a given today. Indeed, through globalisation and relocation of businesses across the globe we are faced with the reality that the person we are likely to work with in our team will be from a different culture.

But what does that entail ?

As you can imagine there are advantages as well as disadvantages. Remember that we see the world through our own cultural lens, and the person working alongside us may see it from his/ her cultural lens, so this may mean that these two views may differ. If we look at it as a disadvantage this would mean that there would be miscommunication between the different parties, different expectations and different understandings of status/ hierarchy which could lead the Team to underperform. On the other hand if we look at it from a positive side, i.e. as an advantage it would mean that bringing these different views together would give a bigger picture and thus more solutions to a problem and thus more creativity. Hence a higher performance.

But how do we get team members to work well together ?

To get team members to work well, these should understand that they come from different cultures and have different views and expectations, Another important issue here is language as well;  although we all speak English, we may actually not understand each other because of accents or vocabulary that we use, and examples could be that a member of a team is perceived as rude because he/ she is crude in what he/ she says. But this may be due to the lack of vocabulary or because he/she is not as comfortable with his/ her English as you may be! It is the same with humour, although humour is used to relax atmosphere it can be perceived as offensive by someone else if they do not understand sarcasm or your joke and vice-versa.

So when working face to face with colleagues from a different culture always listen actively, if you do not understand what they mean or say just ask for clarifications, if you feel that you are treated in a certain way, raise the issue and discuss it to not let frustration disturb the team dynamic; and from time to time get together and talk about each other´s cultures to understand one another better !

When you work virtually, the difference will be when you work with relationship based cultures such as Asian or Latin cultures. Today we communicate a lot by phone and Skype, but sometimes it is easier for us to just pick up the phone and call our colleagues at the other end of the world. Now experience has shown that for relationship based cultures, phone calls are not enough to build a relationship amongst team members. To build trust and relationships, it is best to use Skype or Video conferencing which will create a face to face relationship and probably enhance the team performance. Just try it out and see how powerful it can be and how quick it can change the relationships between team members and thus increase performance and bond within the team.

Also do feel free to contact us to know more or if you have tips to share, please do comment !

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How to have a successful expatriation

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Being told that you are going to be relocated to a new country may not be easy especially if you were not expecting it !

By training expatriates coming to the UK, I have seen that many were happy but also many entered the UK already with a culture shock ! Why is that ?

The problem with relocations is that we either get hooked on them and look forward to moving to the next place after 3 years or we can get attached to the current country we are in and do not wish to leave.

In the latter case, so if we settled well in the country we are currently in, enjoy the culture and the country it feels alarming to move to a new one. We have to go through the process once again, we need to settle in, learn about the  new culture, leave our friends and family behind once again, and we are getting a little tired. This is one side of the culture shock we may be going through. Another aspect of the culture would be that we have already been in the new country and have experienced very bad things there which have stuck to our minds and hinder us from moving in a positive light ! This happens to some of us, and it is not a good state to be in as we shut ourselves down, duck our heads and just wait for the next assignment to come !

How do we deal with these issues if we are already in culture shock when we arrive to our new country ?

The best is to start afresh, bad experiences happen, and sometimes they are lessons life throw´s at us, we just need to see past them, and perceive them as a lesson rather than a constant which will happen again. The best is to reflect on what happened previously or why it is one is in shock ! If you are in shock because you didn´t want to move, make sure you surround yourself with positive people as these people will show you the beautiful side of your new location and will lift up your spirits ! Because if you surround yourself with people who think the same way then your culture shock will most probably last the entire duration of your assignment and make your life miserable !

So the point is, when in shock, try to identify why it is that you are in that state:  if it is because of a bad experience, try to study this experience and put it into perspective. Once you have identified what is causing your shock, try to see what you could do to reduce it ! Meet new people, surround yourself with positive people, talk to your colleagues, your family, find a coach or a trainer with whom you can discuss it !

Once you have overcome this stage, you will be ready for an exiting time in your assignment, you will enjoy life more, your work and your new country !

Once last thing would be to keep fit, find a routine so that your mind doesn´t wonder off too much, as the mind is our worst enemy in culture shock cases !

 

All the best of luck, and if you need any help, or have examples, feel free to share or contact us !

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Cultural Consciousness Workshop, 22nd June 2013 in London

Dear All,

It is with great pleasure that we would like to announce the launch of our Cultural Consciousness workshop in London on Saturday 22nd June 2013 from 9:30 to 16:30.

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Cultural Consciousness: communicate effectively across cultures

  • Do you work internationally with international clients, in intercultural teams?
  • Do you coach international leaders?

We communicate daily with people from different cultures whether it is in our work or in our private life. And sometimes we may find it hard to communicate and do business with them.

Why is that?

We are shaped by our own culture in how perceive the world and how we communicate. We all see the world through different lenses and the Cultural Consciousness workshop is here to help you identify how you perceive the world and provide you with the tools that will enable you to succeed in the global arena.

Why Cultural Consciousness?

“Real adaptation comes from within and starts with understanding who we are”

Being culturally conscious means understanding where we come from and how we see the world. Identifying who we are gives us the opportunity to open our mind to differences and thus be more open to different perspectives and ways of communicating.

This workshop will give you practical tools that will enable you to excel in international business and help reduce your stress and anxieties towards the unknown enabling you to become more comfortable around different cultures and succeed in your business or in your team.

“Amazing experience, super useful, full of practical tools,

never thought I could get so much in just one day“

(Marie Claire, expat Singapore)

The workshop will take place on Saturday 22nd June 2013 from 9:30 to 16:30 in London at the following venue:

Evolve Wellness Center

10 Kendrick Mews

SW7 3HG London (closest tube station is South Kensington)

The fee for this one day workshop will be GBP 130.

There is a special offer if you come with a colleague:  GBP 200 for two.

Book your place now as there are limited spaces – contact us at info@be-a-chameleon.com to book your space

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Being culturally aware is not only about others but also about ourself !

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When working internationally, managers and organizations focus on their business partners and clients. What are their needs, their demands, and how can these be met ?

Meeting the customer´s demand and providing excellent customer service is of utmost importance in today´s global and competitive business world.

Being aware of cultural differences through leading intercultural teams, working with business partners from other countries and doing business on a global scale is of the essence. Many organizations are aware of the need to be culturally aware, however do they take the right steps to achieve this awareness ?

Many businesses and mostly SMEs fail on the international scene as they lack the know how and awareness, training their managers and leaders would be a strategic advantage that could secure them further business abroad.

Business failure starts already with the communication: how do the managers communicate with their business partners and customers ? Then it is about customs: what is important for my customer ? Relationship or business ? How do I introduce myself ? How do I speak about business if we are at a social event ? How should I interact ? What kind of question may I ask ?

And when working in intercultural teams: how do I need to communicate with my fellow team members ? What is acceptable behaviour ? How do I provide feedback to my colleagues ? How can I bring my team to work more harmoniously to increase its performance ?

As we can see all these questions are about behaviour and how we should behave towards others. When doing business internationally it is of course the most important thing and this is what is taught in cultural awareness trainings: how to do business internationally.

An aspect which we, at be-a-chameleon, take into consideration, is the individual taking the cultural awareness training (which we call Cultural Consciousness). Additionally to providing him/her with know how about how to adapt and communicate better across cultures, we look at how he/she perceives these changes and tools and how these affect him/her. In our training we make sure that you learn to adapt without changing who you are, we give you tools and know how, however before that we seek to understand how you perceive the world and what your values and beliefs are because we are aware that certain situations may bring you out of your comfort zone. So understanding what your comfort zone is, we can help you go beyond it and make sure that in your next intercultural experiences you will be more comfortable and confident.

We will be providing a Cultural Consciousness training mid-June 2013 in London, please feel free to contact us for further details at info@be-a-chameleon.com, and watch this space as we will post more information this month.

 

 

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Leaving your country to live abroad – provided by our guest blogger Ozchameleon

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More than three years ago I decided to leave Europe to go and have a career change by studying a Master degree in Australia! The initial plan was to study for a year and return to Europe after. As you can imagine, like many foreigners here, I fell in love with that country, the nature, the laid back environment (not always easy but learnt a lot) and the life I created for myself!

One has to admit, that my personal journey has not always been an easy one but it has enriched me with experience, resilience and many funny stories to tell!

Before the start of my journey, whilst still in Europe, I was quite organised for a change as this time, I read about the country I was going to (Australia), made research to find out more about the culture etc. This was important for me as I did travel a lot and loved discovering new places and cultures but this time, I knew I was going to live there for a while and was very curious of this foreign land on the other side of the world, Down Under!

As an anecdote, what stuck around until now was the interesting fact a document said about Aussies: apparently, Australians often make jokes about their friends and one should not get offended if they do it to you! To be honest, this is true! One should not take one´s self too seriously as life is beautiful and simple!

Adapting to the culture – Australian Lifestyle

My first intercultural shock was the Aussie accent! Being used to the American and British one, I was just having difficulties understanding them especially when they used slang! Since, I´ve adapted myself and find it shocking when going back to England as I´m not used to hearing that accent anymore.

The other shock as a French individual was the fashion in Australia! It is an easygoing country and people live a simple and practical life but ´oh God´, the French fashion police would stop them then and now me if they saw us/me that way… To draw the picture, being a city near the beach and being quite relaxed compared to European cities, you see men in suits wearing flip-flops or like they say here ´thongs´, and business women in a smart dress wearing sneakers!!! Let me tell you that now I don´t care anymore what people think as I discovered the comfort of wearing these shoes to go to work instead of those beautiful but now painful heels that get caught in the holes in the street or on escalators when going to take the train or in a shopping centre!

Some French friends of mine can´t believe I´m actually doing that! How could I? As I tell them… power of adaptation 😉

Friendships in Australia

So I arrived in Australia and apart from the little shocks you cannot find in books, I decided to follow the lifestyle and move into a flatshare. It was an amazing experience as I met great people and managed to have a circle of friends, which since have evolved but this is life.

As such, I found the Australian culture in terms of friendship quite similar to the Americans. It is quite easy to speak to some of them but it takes a while until it actually becomes a friendship. Not knowing this, you could easily be deceived thinking you’ve established a great friendship but then at the end, you realise it took you actually two years to find out more about the individual who then starts to introduce you to their closer circle of friends and family. I must admit that the people I have encountered are in general very independent and live their life as they feel and keep it simple, which is a good balance and a cultural shock when you are not used to that but more to closer friendships.

To summarise, in order to adapt, I simply absorbed what I read, observed the human interaction in different settings to get my own understanding, analysed and replicated what felt aligned with my own self. It worked perfectly well and this is a process my family and I have gone through for as long as I have lived, which makes it pretty integrated and unconscious by now.

Other Culture shock  – at a funeral

A member of my Australian partner family unfortunately died unexpectedly. It was quite a tough experience for him in these particular circumstances.

The funeral was quickly organised and arranged by his aunts through a funeral service (all funerals are organised through here). The ceremony and cremation were done on that particular funeral home premises.

After the service, the shocking part of the story was that it was suggested by a member to go with who desired to an RSL Club (Returned and Services League); which is a place where you have a pub, a sitting area, some TVs to watch sports and a gaming room (casino and bingo room).

Coming from Europe where you usually go to church, then to a state or church cemetery and then go to a family members house or a restaurant for lunch, it was a shock to me! We did talk after the lunch with my partner and I told him about my perspective and what had shocked me. He seemed not to be that shocked as it was usual to do it the way it was done. He appreciated my concerns and did realise that indeed, different cultures and different families here in Australia did it differently but he realised that the family values and expression of emotions was quite different for him and most Australians.

For more information on any of the stories or any comments you would like to make about a similar or different experience, please feel free to leave a message J

Enjoy!

Yours,  Ozchameleon

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What is being culturally aware ?

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Being culturally aware is the capacity to switch from one way of seeing the world to another.

It is the capability to understand what is going on around us in a business or team meeting, understanding that differences are there and that the way I see the world may be different from the way my counterpart may see it.

To become culturally aware there are three steps which we reflect in our new training which will come out in 2013 (Cultural Consciousness). The three steps are as follows:

1. Knowing who you are and where you come from

Knowing who you are, including your personality type and where you come from, i.e. your cultural background, is the first step to pinpointing the way you see the world. Once you understand what is important to you in terms of values and beliefs and what your biases are, hence what triggers you and what makes you react in a way that may compromise a business deal or team work, enables you to see past your biases and values because you are consciously aware that these are the points that may affect your behaviour.

2. Being open to differences

Being conscious of who you are and where you come from now gives you the opportunity to reflect on differences. How do people see the world? What is their perception of time, how do they communicate, what would trigger them to refuse to do business with me ? Throughout your business and personal life you will come across people from different walks of life that will see the world differently and the best thing to do when meeting these people is taking notes about what is different about them: what makes them tick, what are their preferences, what are their values and beliefs, how do they make business? This second step is very important as it will emphasize your ability to analyse what is happening around you and embrace differences.

3. Learn from those who are different

As mentioned in point 2, taking notes of differences that you come across can be a valuable exercise especially since it will give you the power to switch from one way of thinking/ seeing the world to another. You will feel more at ease in different situations and your stress and anxiety levels will drop significantly giving you the opportunity to work across cultures and communicate well with people from different cultures.

These three points are the important points we focus on in our training as being aware of who you are, others are different from you and embracing differences will be a long-term investment (training wise but also personally) as it will take you on a journey of self-reflection and self discovery.

Do feel free to contact us if you would like to find out more on our Cultural Consciousness training which will start beginning of 2013.

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Integration into a new culture and coming back home

Whilst in Paris for a few days I was invited by a very good friend of mine to go to one of her friends birthday party in the 18eme arrondissement of Paris!

When we arrived we gave “la bise” to all the people already there (they were approximately twelve! ) which took us a little while 🙂

During the evening I met a very interesting Chilean lady with whom my friend and I started to chat with! We were interested In knowing how she felt in France and if she had faced any difficulties when she went back to Chile.

She first explained why she came to Paris. She came to Paris to study French and social politics at a University. And her second objective was to integrate, melt into French society and have many French friends. She said it was not easy at first, she went to many bars to try and meet people but realised that the French usually stayed in groups and did not mix with others, even if they saw her standing there on her own! So she visited many bars until she found the right one and made many friends! She also used online groups that met regularly, people who wanted to mix and meet new friends! After three years in Paris she had made it, she felt part of the Parisian lifestyle, she felt French and she had many friends!

After three years she was offered a job in Chile where she went back! She said that the first three month was hard, she had lived three years abroad so the people she knew kept telling her she was a snob because she had lived elsewhere and she didn’t speak as good a Spanish as before! Then also from a cultural perspective, she realised that family values were very important, many of her friends in Chile were surprised that at her aged she was snot married and did not have a boyfriend, that made her feel different! After a year back it is better, but she still realises that people see her differently, but she is confident that it can only get better!

The moral of the story is that when we expatriate ourselves it is always important to keep in mind that we should integrate and not stay with people from the same country! And when we come back home, yes we have changed but the people we knew have not and so a gap has emerged, the hard work is to fill this gap again !

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The 5 stages of expatriation

When we are given the opportunity by our company to move abroad we go through phases of accommodation to our new role. Now some companies provide you with support and others don´t.  It is a little bit different when we decide ourselves to move abroad for a better life and work experience, however the phases we go through are slightly different as we will be more stressed about it as we take a leap into the unknown.

This article will focus on those who are expatriated by their companies, and another article will be written for those who go on their own.

You have worked for a few years in the headquarter of your company or in the branch of your company which is located in your home country and after x years your boss tells you that you will be relocated to another country. Elisabeth Kübler Ross writes about the 5 stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance) when we lose someone dear to us. In the intercultural field it si a little different however we still go through different phases which are as follows:

1. Happiness

The first time we here we will be relocated we think positively about it, indeed we get to move somewhere else, hopefully where it is sunny, and we have a role with more responsibilities which is great for our career. We start gathering information about the new country, speak about it to all are friends and family and look forward to this new opportunity !

2. Doubt

Is it really happening, am I really going to move away from the ones i love ! I know this country is great and that it is good for my career however how will it be, will I feel good over there, will I have nice colleagues ? All these questions start to pop up in our head a few days or weeks before we are due to leave for our new assignment. Some companies offer their expatriates a first glance of the new country by sending them overseas for a few days to have a look at the new environment and speak to their new colleagues which soothes this feeling a bit. Others do not offer this and that is were some expatriates might feel even more doubtful about this new experience because they are jumping head first into something they don´t know ! This phase will last until you touch down in the new country.

3. Curiosity

You are now in your new home, new country with your new colleagues, the first month will be about settling, finding a home, getting to know your colleagues, discovering the new city and all of this is quite exciting.

Where it splits is after the first or second month, there are two ways we can react:

4.a. Adaptation

You have spent a lot of time going out, exploring the city, getting to know your colleagues, meeting local people and you feel comforted and at home. You are now in the adaptation phase, it is all about understanding what and who is around you.

4.b Depression

You have satisfied your curiosity however you don´t feel good about it and you start questioning everything you see and the way people work around you. You don´t feel comfortable living and working here so unfortunately you fall into depression because you miss your friends and family. This usually happens when we omit to meet with local people to integrate or understand the local culture better. We all react differently to such an experience that is what makes us human !

5. Acceptance and integration

For those of you who have adapted well you finally accept that this is your new home and that you will spend a few years here. You have found new friends, created a network and have colleagues you work well with. For those that went through the depression phase it might be tricky, there are those who stay but whose performance is not very good due to them feeling uncomfortable, and there are those who decide to leave the assignment and return to their countries.

Most expatriation or at least 50% of expatriates fail and return early to their home country because they had problems adapting or integrating to the new culture. There is nothing bad about it, probably they would have needed help which we can provide for example to adapt better to their new host country.

Many of us think that asking for help may be a sign of weakness however in many intercultural texts you will find that the best results in expatriation comes from those who have been helped with the adaptation. Not all of us need help that is true !

Conclusion is that yes some of us may or may not need help however when provided with training/ briefing or coaching before leaving for a new country can accelerate the process of integration.

 

 

 

 

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