When working on this article, I thought I would write a list of reasons, why talented Russians (and guys from CIS-countries with the similar mentality) get fired in Europe already during the probation period.
Let’s take Germany, a usual job not involving IT or scientific research, where people will forgive you whatsoever if you do the job. The main reason why Russians get fired is that we are UNSOCIAL. Unsocial according to the European standards.
If you are Russian, you know for sure, how our satirist Zadornov made everybody laugh by telling, how people smile 24/7 in the US. If you work in Europe at a position where you see people at least twice a day – congrats, smiling is the easiest thing you are going to need. Here is my personal list, why you may be considered unsocial (and therefore get a label “you are not good for the team spirit” and get fired) while working, for instance, in Germany:
- You don’t spend the dinner with your colleagues. You just wanted to go shopping during the lunch break to have some minutes off from talking? Forget it. In Germany, people expect you to eat with them every damn time they want to eat together. Because you all are a team! The worst is, even if they eat somewhere very expensive and not tasty, you are still invited in an obligatory manner.
- You don’t drink coffee with your colleagues. We all know days, when you count minutes to get a project done and all your deadlines are burning. In fact, I have such days at least 3 times a week. Buuut….when your colleagues invite you for a cup of coffee, you go and drink a cup of coffee, even if it’s your 7th for today. Because you are a damn good team member.
- You don’t tell, what you did on the weekend. The question, which is usually asked on Monday, makes me sweat every week. Hmmm…what did I do on the weekend? Had sex with my BF, slept till lunch, watched TV?…Nope, I need a good story and everybody should see, what an interesting person I am. Because I am a damn team member. And I just love telling everybody about my personal life..
- You don’t respect the “cake culture”. Ask in advance, if it is traditional to bring anything to your team on special events. In Germany, it usually would be: your first week at work, your birthday, your last day at work – and sometimes also after a vacation.
- You don’t participate in after-work activities. This is the thing I hate the most. I spent the whole day AND the lunch break with you, and you still need me for cocktails till 23:00?!! Swallow it: after-work is a must.
- You criticize. There is no critics in Germany, unless you are a big big boss. You are not allowed to tell anybody that he did something wrong. Only what he could have done better. This is a golden rule, breaking which can cost you a career very fast.
- You defend your opinion. Having an opinion is good, but defending it against your boss will not be a good idea. Even if your boss is an idiot. Even if you can prevent a huge loss of money. Try to use as many arguments as you can to support your point and find support among your colleagues. My advice? Write an email to your boss summarizing your point. It will protect you later in case your boss will blame you for “not telling the optimal solution in time”.
- You lack sensitivity. In many European countries, a phrase “You could work a bit on your phone call skills” may be translated as “Your phone talk skills are a disaster, work on them immediately or you get fired!”. Learn from the very beginning, which 2 is equal 10.
- You are a team leader and make employees fear you or scream at your employees. Does the word “motivation” seem familiar? Right, this is the word European use to underline some magical force, which they lack to do the job they are paid for. And you are not going to remind them, that they can lose the job if they are not working enough. No, you are going to MOTIVATE them to do the job. Because the ability to motivate employees is a part of your job.
- You work too hard or too long. If in Russia the road to the promotion is shorter for a person staying longer, in Germany this will make your colleagues hate you. Because you push the standards up and nobody likes that. Adjust yourself to the work culture and tempo, no matter how many brilliant ideas you have. Or just work at home on your proposals like me 😉
In general, the reason, why Russians get fired in Europe, is that we think that the work culture is very similar to the Russian one and therefore even not look for the things we need to adjust, as we would do in some exotic country. I am sorry to say it, but you will be very impressed, how different we are and how much more importance will be given in Europe to social skills and emotional intelligence rather than to the professional knowledge. If you decided to try your career luck in Europe, be prepared, because many things are about to change.