Sunday, February 22, 2009

Global Talent Management

Germans are known for being (compared to Americans) stern, phlegmatic and practical. German bosses in particular are not given to being excited about you or emiting unnecessary compliments like 'nice job'. So if you work for a German, don't expect lots of feedback about how much you rule.

Unless you totally screw up, interactions with your German boss are more likely to go something like this:

German boss: How's your project going?

You: I finished Tuesday ahead of schedule and met with Global Dynamics Wednesday to walk them through it. They loved it and want to do a bigger project with us next month.

German boss (nodding): OK. Anything else?

You: Well, I put out a small kitchen fire this morning with my bare hands and skipped lunch to finish a prototype I'm working on that predicts stock prices up to five years out and has so far been completely accurate for a two year sample. I noticed two guys trying to steal our video conferencing equipment and was able to stop them using martial arts. My cancer vaccine is also coming along nicely. Oh, and I baked you some brownies. They're on your desk.

German boss (nodding and making a few notes): OK. Do you have any vacation planned this quarter?

To be fair, German bosses are also sensitive to the ingrained suspicion all Germans have of insincere compliments. I once managed a German project team and early on (before I really got the Germans) I sent a short 'nice job' email to one of the consultants. He responded, 'What is the meaning of this?' I took the hint and immediately desisted with unwanted personal observations and everyone was much happier.

Key Takeaway: Management styles are different everywhere and the successful global manager should keep this in mind and adapt his or her management style accordingly.

Disclaimer: Most German bosses don't actually look like Til Scheiger.

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