Team culture

Some time ago I was doing a project in Germany. I worked closely with a lot of people at the client, on location in Germany.  What better way to discover the cultural differences 🙂

I was surprised. Germany and The Netherlands are neighbouring countries, but there were more differences than I expected.

Compared to Dutch people Germans have a more formal way of communication at work. So it’s possible you are good friends for years, but still in business meetings you will call each other sir/madam (if other people are present). In The Netherlands you almost never call somebody you know sir/madam, there are other ways to show you respect people.

It’s also always clear what the hierarchy in the company is, lot’s of people even have that in their signature, which makes escalation paths really clear ;). Disagreeing with somebody above you in the hierarchy is not done in Germany, but Dutch people are always ready to discuss everything with everybody, because it is possible you have a better solution for a problem than your manager. On the other hand it does take much more communication time in NL because of that.

Because of the different cultures within this project (German, Dutch, Greek, Romanian) the culture in the project changed from the local German working culture into a mixture best suitable for this project. For example everybody was on first-name base, but decisions from higher levels were always accepted as a fact.

As always a project team should find its own culture for maximum performance. Working with people from different cultures means you have more options to choose from and more to learn from each other. Of course if the cultural differences are big, everybody needs to change their behaviour more to fit in the culture, althought the tendence is to stay closest to the clients culture.

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Day 8 – Getting of the mountain

Yesterday was tipping time. A special occasion for the guides and porters because it’s an important part of their salary. Of course we thought it through and gave good tips. But, as stated in the Kili guide, the guides pretended that the tip was not enough. What a hassle. But when they found out it was all they got (and all we had), they were happy and big friends again. I guess this is one of the more clear cultural differences. In the morning we also gave everybody something additional, like a sweater, socks, headlight or gloves. This really made the day. I haven’t seen the porters more happy during the trip! So I guess we did OK. A strange (for us) thing is that the porters and guide have absolutely no problems with asking for more gear, clothes or money. We had to remember ourselves that this is probably normal for them.

The last walk of the mountain was only 2 hours. At Mweka gate some administration had to be done by the guide and after that we wend of to Moshi, with our certificate that we made it all the way to Uhuru Peak 🙂

This will (probably) be my last post on our Kili adventure. Now we are going on a 5 day safari, after that diving at Zanzibar.

All pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/tomvanlamoen/Kilimanjaro

National Jamboree

From July 21 until 30 I am going to the National Jamboree (NJ) with my Scouts (Boy and Girls Scouts from Scouting Boxtel). A jamboree is a big international Scouting camp. A lot of countries organise one each four yours. Also each four years a World Jamboree is organised. The jamboree I am going to is organised by Scouting Nederland, but is open for all countries. The NJ is held in Boxtel, on Velder, so we cannot not go there, since it’s almost in our backyard.

 

Some time ago I read about the 1st Whitby Scouts from Canada asking questions about renting materials, because taking tents, gas stoves, etc in the plane is very expensive. So I got the idea to go to the NJ together. This should be a win-win situation, with a lot of cultural exchange and new international friends. After some e-mails we decided to join forces. Now we are planning the final details.

Of course the Canadians want to see the highlights of the Netherlands, which made me think… They created a list and I noticed that I did not see everything on their list. So it looks like tourists see typical Dutch places that a lot Dutch people did not visit. So I look forward to their visit and will certainly join in some of the NL sightseeing.

I really look forward to our summercamp and am curious how the cultural exchange will be, if we find much differences between Canadian and Dutch culture, how the Scouts will adapt to the joined group and if it will go natural or needs much additional efforts.