Working in internationally mixed groups can offer a number of unexpected benefits, but also tremendous intercultural challenges. In this show we concentrate on how you can prepare yourself or other people to master these challenges.
Thomas, an international project manager from Slovakia talks with Nicole who worked for the European project “Teaching-Culture”. In this project Alexandra Haas from VHS Rhein-Sieg together with 13 European partners developed a training course for intercultural awareness aimed at teachers of adult education in Europe. Nicole, one of the developers from Austria, tells us about her experiences in international teamwork situations. Even the culturally-determined differences of the daily agenda for meetings (e.g. meal times) turned into one of many challenges the international group had to master, because cultural differences influence teamwork and sometimes even the team spirit. We often think we are aware of these challenges, but in fact in international teamwork they often get in our way. However, the question remains whether culture can really be taught or can we only learn by experience?
Keith Warburton from Global Business Culture helps clients from all over the world to develop levels of cultural awareness and understanding so that they can operate more effectively and profitably within the global market place. He can look back on a very long international career, working in several countries for over 18 years. He remembers the mistakes companies made when they started to work globally and explains how difficult it still is to convince a complete company to participate at intercultural training seminars. Today, everybody in a company, from the most senior top manager to the junior part-time admin staff is supposed to communicate effectively with clients and suppliers from other cultures. As Keith says, a company is only as strong as its weakest link so intercultural awareness training is essential at all levels of the company.
We wanted to know how experienced intercultural trainers attempt to teach culture. Do they use facts and figures and simply imform the participants about the different customs and habits of other cultures, such as how to present your business card in the Asian context? Or do they go outside the company with a whole group and make them explore the differences in case studies and simulations? We asked a group of intercultural trainers what the perfect intercultural training seminar would look like, how the learning group should be motivated and which exercises they would propose.
The next show will be coming to you on 30 May from Anne Fox in Denmark.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Peter Kron