New Europe Resourcing Executive Search, Research and HR Consultancy Services
Cultural awareness starts with empathy
Arriving in a new country as an ex-pat, is not anymore as heroic as Marco Polo’s travels around the world.

Nowadays, ex-pats are usually supported by an international HR Coordinator, who supplies them with a comfortable safety net, moving companies, brokers, lawyers etc. All facilitated by an attractive labor contract, including housing allowances, hardships fees, international schools for the children and other benefits.  However, after settling in and getting your way around in your new city, the time comes to actually start working and this is where the real challenge begins.
I would like to share a few insights, which apply to all countries in New Europe.

Looks are deceiving

When you enter another culture, you tend to focus on the things that are known and familiar to you. You (subconsciously) might expect your colleagues will understand what you mean and react to what you are used to. You will soon realize that things are not always what they seem and you might draw the wrong conclusions. Thus, you will have to explore deeper! Take the effort to get to know more about the environment. Explore how ordinary people in the city live and think. How can you judge marketing proposals when you do not know the values of the users of your products? 

Ratio versus emotion

Doing business in New Europe is often more based on emotion and less on ratio than in Western Europe or the USA. Before your potential clients even think about the terms of business, they are more interested to establish close relationships in which both parties gain respect for each other. Domestic managers rely on their local network. Hidden agendas such as powerful positions or outstanding moral debts to friends, families, politicians etc. play a role in the decision making process. Therefore, it is important to invest time in building up relationships with the local community. This can facilitate a faster pace or, when neglected, stall the business development progress.

Leave the bubble

The most effective international managers are sensitive to cultural differences and show empathy and patience in bringing out the best in their subordinates and colleagues. The ex-pats that have the courage to step out of their cosy ex-pat bubble and discover the real world of the country where they are temporarily guest will be able to make much faster progress. This will result in a very positive energy and synergy leading to improving sales and higher market share.

October 2009, Robert Groeneweg

Business background, understanding of bottom line, appreciative to challenges, empathy, emotional intelligence, new ideas, wide knowledge of New European countries

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Nova Europa Zapošljavanje d.o.o.
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