We would like to invite you to the next Culture Pop-Up in Zurich: The Migration Game on Tuesday, 10 May 2016. The event will be held in German.
by Christa Uehlinger
Great, active participants, a nice place, an apéro and three authors these were the ingredients making the last Culture Pop-Up on “Developing intercultural competence by playing and storytelling” on 22 October in Winterthur an inspiring evening. The creators of the game, Christa Uehlinger, Hans Lampalzer and René Schrackmann gave an input on how they started to work together, what it took to elaborate the game, what the intention was and also what is meant by intercultural competence.
Then they focused mainly on how these stories could be used in trainings and coaching to build awareness for different cultures as well as for one’s own and to explore these critical moment by asking “what happened?”. This question is key in developing intercultural competence as it is of utmost importance to be a cultural detective and not to oversee tiny details which could make a difference in an interaction. Sadly enough, nowadays people tend to be distracted and not paying enough attention on observing.
“Puzzling Intercultural Stories” is a compilation of 50 short stories based on real events. They raise awareness of the importance of a culture of cooperation and are excellent tools to practice lateral thinking outside of the box and changing perspectives. After this input, it was time for the participants to play and to experience it themselves. They liked it a lot and the final questions were discussed during the apéro which also was a great opportunity to network and to tie the knots within SIETAR Switzerland.
Where to order
If you’d like to order the game via LinkingPeople. The English version is called Puzzling Intercultural Stories and the German version is called “Interkulturelle Crazy Business Stories 3″.
by Angela Weinberger
Values are the Foundation
Values are the foundation of your global virtual team. Values are what clients feel instantly when they work with your team. Values are shown in actions and 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 might 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 found ten key 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 seven universal values, although their research was mainly conducted in Western cultures (and Hong Kong): achievement, enjoyment, maturity, prosocial, restrictive conformity, security and self-direction.
Derive Team Principles for your Global Team
From values you can derive team principles of communication and of working together. Then, in case of conflict, you will have principles to base your decisions on.
When working with my clients during 1:1 career or executive sessions, I always build in a session on values at work. From my experience, these are the seven most commonly cited values (this is anecdotal, not academic data):
Let’s assume that these seven values form the basis for excellence around the world.
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, and having discussions or collecting stories will help the team see those differences.
Before you can formulate team principles, ensure that you are all on the same page. Suggest to each team member to contribute with their own 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…” (i.e., active and positive). For example, “We support each other to achieve excellent quality by giving honest feedback.”
Take photos, videos and allow images
Whenever 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 that “they work hard.” I need to understand what that means in their context. In Switzerland, working hard means getting up at 5 AM, 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 on 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. Sharing values requires trust and trust is only built over time by people who show their values towards their colleagues constantly.
Schwartz, Shalom H.; Bilsky, Wolfgang (1990). Toward a theory of the universal content and structure of values: Extensions and cross-cultural replications. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 58(5), May 1990, 878-891.
by Jessica Grosser
Internships are a great way to get an insight in different areas, so therefore I was really excited to do an internship with an intercultural virtual team over the summer.
Firstly I did not think much about it as I already experienced how it was to work with an virtual team but the difference there was I still travelled every morning to my office in Zürich where I could engage with other team members in the office as only a part of my team was virtual.
Secondly, I thought it would be great to spend the summer in a virtual office so I could plan my free time and enjoy the nice weather at home.
Another difference to a corporate environment is that this intercultural virtual team is a team of volunteers. They mainly work on this project outside of “working hours” while they run their own businesses or follow a corporate career.
What have I learnt from my internship in the intercultural virtual team?
Higher engagement when no one is watching
I tried to engage more in my work when no one was around to check on how I did my work. I tried to do an even better job to prove that I actually did what I was told to. Even though I may had done my work for the day and thought I could enjoy the nice weather I constantly checked my phone to see if I got any mails
I couldn’t really enjoy my free time as I still was engaged mentally in my work. For that reason I just had to learn to get a different work-life balance. When I worked in an office from 8 am to 5 pm I knew exactly when I started and when I stopped.
I always planned sufficient time to be able to work on important tasks in the mornings. I also planned time in the late afternoon or evening to respond to mails which I got during the day.
Communication is key
Working in an intercultural virtual team requires a different communication approach than in an office.
First of all despite the fact that also in an office you receive mails with working tasks most of the time you have the chance to go to the person who sent you the mail to ask for more detailed information. You can watch their body language and normally you speak the same mother tongue.
On the other hand in an intercultural virtual team there is no one around to ask directly therefore you exchange more emails. Emails do have a tendency to lead to confusion (especially when you are not writing in your native language). You need to be careful with the use of your words.
With more senior professionals you might have a different writing style as well. Maybe they are more formal in their communication and prefer to talk on Skype rather than writing in English.
For me it is easier to talk to a person directly and describe my problem as sometimes not everything written comes out the same as you mean it. This is why I had to learn how and when to write a mail so that it is efficient while not creating an information overflow.
Regular meetings with your supervisor in person or at least over Skype are helpful. Skype or face time are really important communication tools in intercultural virtual teams as it makes it possible to talk to your colleagues face to face. At the same time you have a chance to talk about personal topics better on Skype.
Home offers more distraction
As I worked from home there was sometimes quite a distraction (from personal phone ringing, chores which need to be done, pets which need attention etc.). Even if you can sleep longer and don’t have to dress up to go to work, it also isn’t easy sometimes as you have to tell your family or roommates that even you are at home you are not available.
This is why I had to learn to just close my door, tell everyone I am not available in the moment and turn my phone off.
I started my internship with great expectations about how I can arrange my own free time and no one who is bossing me around the whole day but it showed that it actually is more work than getting up early in the morning and dragging yourself to the office every day.
I guess one thing that made it easier for me to work in a virtual office is that I am a student so I am used to working at home and tell myself that I have to work now which I can imagine maybe hard if you are used to always work in an office with your colleagues.
All in all my internship was a great experience as it really showed me how it is to work in an intercultural virtual team and it was something totally different. But in the end I also think that it isn’t something I could do forever because it is nice to go to an office and just have small talk with your colleagues as a virtual office misses something crucial for human begins: social interaction.
What is your experience working with intercultural, virtual teams?
Jessica Grosser is a 23 years old student in International Management at ZHAW in Winterthur. Last year she studied a year in Hong Kong. Before her studies she already did an internship at UBS and Ringier AG in Shanghai.
7 September 2015
from 6 PM to 7 PM
Can Intercultural Training go on-line?
Hear feedback from two members who attended SIETAR Europa conference workshops and sessions on this topic and share your own experiences with other webinar participants.
Presenters: Daniela Marchese and Sabine Baerlocher
To register email to Anne-Claude Lambelet no later than August 18, 2015
Only a limited number of places are available so hurry!
These webinars are free for SIETAR Switzerland Members
Non members can join provided there is still space, cost is CHF 25 payable on registration. Each webinar is limited to 25 participants.
Places will be reserved on a first-come first-served basis & members will be served first.
by Marianna Pogosyan
On one of the warmest inaugural days of the spring, a roomful of eager faces gathered in Bern from all over Switzerland to witness an important first in the life of SIETAR Switzerland – the first ever AGM (Annual General Meeting).
As with all firsts, the evening was full of poignancy and excitement. The legal protocol took center stage. There was the president’s speech, the passing of motions, the approval of financial statements and annual reports, and the election of the president, the board and the auditors. But perhaps the real momentousness of the evening was reserved to the rewarding culmination of the behind-the-scenes efforts of the past seven months.
To be present along with the other members for the first AGM, to witness the deepening of existing networks and the birth of new connections on this new platform of SIETAR Switzerland, ushered a palpable anticipation for the countless nexts that will follow this first.
During the panel discussion that proceeded the AGM, four experts weighed in on the topic of why we need intercultural competence in a multicultural Switzerland from different perspectives. Lamia Ben Hamida explained the importance of the cultural dimension in knowledge transfer in multinational organizations. Michael Büchi described the migration patterns that have made Switzerland multicultural. Alain Max Guénette spoke about intercultural management, while Petra Bourkia informed the audience about the multicultural challenges of nursing and healthcare in Switzerland.
The evening of the first AGM of SIETAR Switzerland was in itself an invitation for collaboration and to continue the dialogue on culture and its encompassing role in the Swiss society. As Dr. Christa Uehlinger, the president mentioned, there is plenty to look forward to as we work alongside our members to grow SIETAR Switzerland together, not only for the good of society and professional merits, but also for our own personal enrichment.
Switzerland is known as a multicultural society. But is Switzerland really as intercultural as it pretends to be? How truly multicultural are we in different fields of our society? Do we really need intercultural competencies? What intercultural challenges do different fields face right now?
on 24 March 2015
19.00h – 20.00h
The discussion will be followed by a networking apéro.
Our Guest Speakers
- Prof Dr Lamia ben Hamida
Professor for economy, Haute Ecole Arc, Neuchâtel.
- Petra Bourkia
Head International Relations and Socia-cultural Competence Bildungszentrum für Pflege, Bern
- Michael Büchi
Büchi International Services, Dietikon, former Deputy Head of Section Africa at the Federal Office for Migration as well as Attaché for Migration Affairs in Angola.
- Alain Max Guénette
Professor in HR, organisation & psychosociology, IMSI Haute Ecole de Gestion Arc, Neuchâtel
Moderator: Dr. Christa Uehlinger, President SIETAR Switzerland
After the panel discussion, we would like to invite you for a networking apéro, sponsored by Mr Pierre Jeronimo, Manager & Shareholder, Geneva Relocation
How to get there?
Location: Allresto Bern, Effingerstr. 20, 3008 Bern
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by 17 March 2015 if you wish to join us. We look forward to hearing from you.
Download the invite:
Here is an invite for an event organized by SIETAR Austria together with our newly founded SIETAR Switzerland on 13 March 2015. The workshop language is German and will be a wonderful example of “alpine collaboration”.
“Das neu gegründete SIETAR Schweiz sowie SIETAR Austria setzen zu einem alpinen interkulturellen Workshop an:
Ein gutes Training zeichnet sich durch eine hohe Methodenvielfalt aus und spricht verschiedene Lerntypen an. Es gilt, eingefahrene Bahnen zu verlassen und neue Wege zu beschreiten.
Im Zuge des Workshops stellen daher 6 TrainerInnen innovative Methoden des interkulturellen Trainings vor. Die Diskussion der Vorzüge sowie Herausforderungen steht im Mittelpunkt dieses Nachmittags.”
Download the invite here –>> SIETAR Austria workshop