Tag Archives: Европа

Team culture vs. individuals-driven innovations

Some time ago, I attended an Assessment Centre of a major energy company, and the thoughts about it would not let me go. The negative part of my personal feedback was: “We need innovations, and you are not creative, because you did not propose any solution to the problem”. Our group was the only one to complete the task correctly though.

Choosing between different directions for innovation is not only the task for one’s creativity, but this is an issue of the right facilitation and personnel management. Most companies have enough talented people to bring innovations forward but concentrate all the efforts on finding the solutions somewhere else instead of motivating employees to bring ideas forward within the company. Moreover, while recruiters are paying attention to the knowledge of the “right” (well-known and certified) methodologies, the ability to listen carefully to others and to ask the right questions is never in the middle of the interview.

I went through many modern innovation approaches focusing on customers, internal processes, team-related brainstorming – but did not find any good concepts related to individual intellectual strength of employees. Let’s say, innovation is not business at first – it’s personal.

Many companies are strongly team building-oriented, while innovation-focused structured work of less social employees is underrated. The goal of the team management often becomes to make employees identical enough so they could work as an “effective team”. The amount of emotional energy every employee should invest in this theatrical masterpiece of acting like a “good team member” instead of his own work and relationships with the clients is not considered. This becomes especially visible in teams, which have only few introverts, who need to adapt to the “team culture” of others. Meanwhile, when did the “good team player” become the only way of distinguishing the “good employee”? A solid introverted scientist can be of more help in an innovation process than ten certified Innovation Managers can. I am talking here about employees, who are too shy or just uncomfortable to speak up for their ideas. In this case, their y).

Why do so few methodologies focus on what the INDIVIDUALS can and so many – on what THE TEAM can? Why do employers spend so much time creating “team cultures”, candidates are sitting with books on “how to become a person everybody will love during the Assessment Center”, team members are concentrated on the team brainstorming while competing behind each other’s backs. Excuse me, who is going to work in this structure on the innovative strategies and when?

Why do not we try to collect different ideas from the employees themselves one-by-one and then analyze them, as we do with the customers’ opinions? Why not to make our own talented people to our internal customers in the innovation process?

We do not use the individual strengths – we tolerate them. And later on we try to change the individual in order to be able to manage him more effectively. Similar people in larger groups are easier to coordinate. This toleration is a disease, as what we really need is to learn, how to integrate individual strengths instead and make use of them.

We also lack the ability to observe. When I read my non-marketing-related newsfeed on LinkedIn, 80% of posts are about people themselves (I was nominated..I visited…I achieved) and 20% declare the same in a more polite form “WE” (My team..my company..). There are only few to none posts about achievements of colleagues and partners, which mostly come from executives and headhunters. To survive, one should be self-centered, self-confident and very loud. The team culture in many companies does not motivate people to share innovative ideas with each other, as it is more of a co-existence culture under the conditions of a high competition within the “team”. Nobody is willing to share more than is required, even less are employees motivated to ask other team members about their opinions.

In my perception, the reason why many innovative startups are showing a sustainable fast growth is that they are small enough so the employees would use the individual strengths of each other and have less time for the process management. You MUST get to know others and learn their opinion to survive. The ability to listen and make others speak becomes crucial.

As the speed requirements for innovations processes increase, we need new concepts concentrating on making people speak up rather than making their opinions “acceptable” to the team. In the world of diversity, one should learn not only to accept differences in minds, characters, and working cultures – but also to benefit from them.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

Business dinner in Europe

As I told you before, dining culture is extremely important, if you wish to progress in your career in Europe. Unlike casual lunches with colleagues, described in the previous article, dinners might be more of a problem.

In France, the main problem for me was that all the waiters wanted to speak only French, even though they were perfectly able to speak English. Just because they love their native language. One might look strange, showing with his hands that he would like to have a dish with a swimming fish during a business dinner.

In Spain and Italy, I had difficulties to hear my colleagues, because many good restaurants are very loud.

In Netherlands, I had to go for some business breakfast to a cafe next to the trade fair building. Honestly saying, I was ready to cry while paying for my simple “bio” croissant with ham and a small cup of coffee. It was the most precious croissant in my life..

In Germany, you can eat well for a small price or eat so-so for a very high price. It depends. In Hamburg, for instance, one can find 11 Michelin restaurants, and some more, which had a Michelin star before and still have a good kitchen (but much lower prices). As in Germany, some professions require having dinners and lunches with your clients, many companies pay the bills back to their employees if they invited an important client to a dinner – therefore, feel free to accept an invitation from your German business partners.

If you are looking for a very special place to eat with your clients or partners, I would opt for this website:

https://www.viamichelin.de/web/Suchen_Restaurants/

Is will not only show you the Michelin restaurants with a very special kitchen (a good place for a very special date, a proposal, a crucial contract-related business meeting), but also very good restaurants with the approximate price ranges for a meal.

As food is a brilliant opportunity to unite with people and progress in business, I wish you to find just the right place for your occasion.

Kindly yours,

Russianladyabroad

 

 

Thought for the day

Ever wondered, why man Europeans have been in so many countries in EU, but still living in hostels? Because they had an InterRail pass and it was affordable!! This is a kind of abo, which allows you to travel with no limits from country to country, from city to city! 5 days during 15 days for EUR only 269, for instance, any city and any EU country. Check it out here! No adverts, just an idea for your next vacation 😉

https://www.interrail.eu/en/interrail-passes/global-pass

Your Russianladyabroad

10 reasons why your education and work experience have no value abroad – and what to do with it, Part 2

Hi, please check out the Part I of this article to catch up on most important reasons why your CV may not work abroad! Here are the next 5 factors:

6. You have no experience in the country where you are applying

If you worked many years in Asia before, employers cannot be sure, whether you will be able to do the same kind of job in Europe. It is not easy to admit, but with every half of year spent working in Europe, you will see that your experience from other countries will be more and more valued. I suppose, in my case it has lasted 1,5 years until my Russian, Chinese and American experience was fully accepted in Germany.

What to do: Find yourself a job 1-2 levels lower than you are used to or look for a position in a company with offices in your country. In a couple of years you will be back on top as you will prove that your skills and qualifications are not worse than those of your European colleagues.

7. You are not studying in one of the top universities

Many foreigner students are glad to accept scholarship from less popular universities. This gives you more flexibility and security during the study, but might cause problems after the graduation.

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Thought for the day

Today I have an interesting idea to share…Everything in life comes not in cycles, but in waves. Every wave is a bit higher than the previous one. Sometimes we can catch the wave, and sometimes we just get wet and can’t see it, but this does not change how things are working.

Some years ago, I had a difficulty to get an unpaid internship for my Diploma thesis in Russia. This is not in our culture to get somebody running around and disturbing other employers for free. Therefore, I got a small job as an interpreter and agreed with the employer that he will sign the Diploma thesis papers. We went to Munich for a large construction fair, he liked my translation work and asked to stay as a Financial Manager in his company. I denied and went abroad.

After 5 years, I was standing in the very same hall as a speaker talking about complex project structures and high-level IT issues. This is the same spot, just a much higher wave.

This life will give you a change to return and look back – not for a revenge, but for a moment to spend thinking, how much you have done. Do not waste this moment – it is there for you to plan the future, not to regret or to judge your past.

Always yours,

Russianladyabroad

Аптечка переселенца: что взять с собой в Европу и Азию

This article is dedicated to Russian medicines, which one can buy without a recepie only in Russia. As the application of such medicines requires good knowledge of the Russian language, there will be no translation of this article for your own safety.

Эта статья вдохновлена подругой, которая выходила замуж во Франции. Её жених отравился в свадебном путешествии, и поиск подходящих медикаментов превратился в ад. Русскоговорящие путешественники часто не учитывают, что сильнодействующие лекарства в большинстве стран ЕС можно купить только по рецепту. Причём сильнодействующий, в понятии европейцев, – любой медикамент, дающий больше, чем просто снятие симптомов.
Безусловно, самолечение – не альтернатива похода к врачу. Но есть ситуации, в которых к врачу попасть сложно. Например, если вы на кемпинге в Баварии. В крохотном домике вдали от цивилизации в Швейцарии. На рынке в Азии, где у вас резко прихватило живот.

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Russian character: 7 character traits to get rid of if you want ANY international career

A friend of mine has inspired me to write this article. Living abroad since 2013, I already forgot, how many character traits, clichés, ways of thinking and bad manners I overcame in order to be where I am now. Every time I give a comment about a need to change any “typically Russian” behaviour, I get something like “You are a Russian hater!” in exchange. As a “Russian hater” (a hate of myself, I suppose, by definition…), I might feel free to just give it all and list here ALL “typically Russian” traits, which will make a sustainable international career almost impossible to any Russian who sees no need to change.

If you think that everybody will accept you “as you are” and you will have no need in changing yourself while building your career abroad – you are very wrong. These 7 character traits will cost you a career, no matter, how smart, talented and experience you are –therefore, just trust me and get rid of them!

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