TWIST has published numerous articles, books, and studies about various international HR topics since 1990. The full German versions of our articles can be ordered from TWIST at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current Publications on international topics
April 2017: A better understanding for Cultural Rules of the Game
Introduction to the online test "Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire" which assesses Hofestede's cultural dimensions and helps consultants discover the cultural preferences of their clients.
February 2017: Intercultural Leadership
This article illuminates Hofstede's cultural dimensions and their relevance for leadership in a global environment.
July 2015: Sensitivity for Other Cultures - How to Measure Intercultural Competence
Due to glogalization intercultural competence of employees has become more and more important, with intercultural competence being difficult to define and measure. The Twist Consulting Group has therefore developed a valid test for assessment centres., having started with literature and method research and a trial version in 2004. Since 2015 the Twist Intercultural Competence Test (TICT) is available as an online and paper pencil version, measuring the sensitivity for other cultures, previous intercultural experience, language skills, intercultural interest and their willingness to go abroad
June 2015: From Initiates to Experts
Dr. Anja Schmitz and Sonja Nitsch write about the intercultural competence two-step qualification concept at Roche Diagnostics. At Roche Diagnostics employees need to work in intercultural and globally working teams. The emerging differences can lead to misunderstandings and misapprehensions. In order to sensitize their employees and impart knowledge, a custom-tailored offer in the form of a two-stage qualification concept was developed. The article describes the setup and chances of this innovative concept.
Trend Analysis 2015: The Need to Economize
The companies' cost awareness is rising and, thus, even personnel development expenses are chosen carefully. This year's trend analysis gives an overview of today's personnel development topics and the actual need to economize and, hence, to quantify. HR experts from 45 different national and international companies were asked about their core personnel development topics (Top 3: change management, talent management, leadership training) and their financial situation. Economization in terms of money and time seems to be inevitable because of a greater emphasis on controlling and finances. This means that measures such as KPIs, ROIs or evaluations are needed in order to quantify and, therefore, verify the importance of personnel development expenses. As budget cuts are still unpreventable, it is relevant to focus on the right spot. Costly and rather fancy than valuable seminars could be cancelled whereas leadership development measures are too important to be scaled down.
May 2014: "Prepared for Internationalisation"
We asked HR experts from Germany and the U.S. about their top challenges. How do companies cope with intercultural employees? What are the wishes of the HR experts?
March 2014: "Support without Boundaries"
An article about global, innovative talent management at WILO.
February 2013: "Intercultural Competence"
What is the meaning behind the trend word "intercultural competence"?
May 2011: "Prescribed Change - Personal Development at Hospitals"
by Dr. Ruth Hoh & Dr. Claudia Harss
September 2010: "With Brains against Mail Overload"
With a specific test you can easily see of how efficient employees and leaders take care of their email overload.
March 2010: "Breaking Point and Bridges at International Companies"
A conversation between Professor Geert Hofstede and Claudia Harss (PhD)
June 2009: "Dos and Don'ts of international AC"
No doubt: Globally acting concerns such as Daimler or Telecom are old stagers in matters of international assessment centers. Now also smaller companies can benefit from this Know-how: The study group Assessment Center has assembled a comprehensive checklist. It provides Dos and Don'ts for the implemantation of potential assessment instruments.
Mai 2009: "Strategic human resource development in Russia"
The number of investments of western companies in Russia has doubled during the last four years. However, also spectacular purchases of Russian enterprisers into western companies have made headlines. For HR in East and West, it matters therefore increasingly to develop concerted and homogeneous HR politics - irrespective of all still existing cultural differences. A four day workshop on this matter took place in Sotschi.
April 2009: "Act global, think local!". International roll-out.
"How do we identify talented junior staff in our Indian location? Do we use the same tools for potenial analysis there as in Germany?", a Munich company was asking. The answer to this question could only be that it would be urgently necessary to adapt all human ressource development concepts and corresponding instruments from the German headquaters to the cultural characteristics of other countries.
March 2009: "Cross-linking the world. Online tool for intercultural trainings
Hofstedes five dimensions are know all over the world: With their help national cultures can be classified and compared. The name of the matching online-tool is Culture-in-the-Workplace-Questionnaire. It supports trainers and consultants in asserting the cultural preferences of their clients and creates a basis for further measures. How this looks like in practice is shown by an application at the environmental organisation Greenpeace.
March 2008: "New horizons for HR specialists"
HR specialists work on time-limited projects for other companies - getting an insight into best practices in other branches. The TWIST Consulting Group facilitates these projects and it turns out to be a win-win situation for both sides.
February 2008: "Consultancy - not following the usual path"
International think tank - a TWIST event with HR managers from different companies joined by consultants working internationally to share best practices and experiences.
January 2008: "The third party conducting a management audit"
Conducting management audits for executives together with experienced consultants working for other corporates facilitated change for the Stadtwerke Aschaffenburg (Aschaffenburg's municipal utility).
January 2008: "Trend analysis: The problem of qualified future personnel"
The TWIST-study done every year for the past 5 years for which 46 HR managers as well as executives are interviewed, shows the following two challenges for 2008 that have to be dealt with effectively: The upcoming shortage of skilled personnel as well as executives in leadership positions as well as demographic changes.
September 2007: "What works where? International HR"
China, India, South Korea, US, UK, South Africa: Which HR-tools have a good cultural-fit in which culture?" How high are the standard rates for consulting and which are the potential traps one should avoid stepping into?
September 2007: "More personal responsibility"
High Potentials working for the leading manufacturer of chip cards assume an active role in planning their career paths and concerning their own personal development.
The full German version of the articles can be ordered from TWIST at email@example.com.
Summary of international studies
What do foreigners actually think of us Germans?
Hardly had the iron curtain been lifted at the beginning of the 1990s that curiosity drove us to explore the Eastern European countries. We wanted to find out what people there thought of us Germans, what leadership styles existed, what made the German workstyle different from the workstyle of our Russian, Estonian, Slovakian and Hungarian neighbours etc. Hence, from 1994 to 1999 we questioned approx. 50 professional and managerial employees in each of these countries and compared their responses to those of a sample taken in Germany of the same amount of people. Very quickly we found out that East is by no means a uniform term, as the results – although they did indeed reveal some common characteristics – also showed that for every single one of these countries other characteristics are typical, which can have a positive or negative impact on co-operation. In one case, it might be a particularly open or cold attitude towards the Germans, in another case it might be the way in which people deal with criticism or the speed of work.
When interviewing our two most important Western European coperation partners, Great Britain (2004) and France (2006), completely different strengths and weaknesses in a co-operation context emerged, as was to be expected.
We were also very keen to find out the results of our interview of Chinese people in 2004. The statements made by the Chinese were at times so difficult to interpret that we asked some Chinese people living in Germany to help us in evaluating the results (see picture).
Russia & Germany
What do the Germans, in your opinion, think of Russia? That was what we wanted to know, among other things, from the Russian participants in our study. Nothing positive, was the response most of them gave us. They consider us to be backward ("A dormant country") and inefficient and think that our country offers them certain material benefits. No wonder, therefore, that the Russian reception has sometimes been rather subdued and still is subdued in some parts.
When asked what characterises a typical German according to their opinion, we were given the following stereotypes: 1. Accuracy to the point of being pedantic (100%), a shrewd business sense to the point of meanness (44%), reliability and honesty (28%) as well as self-consciousness and reserved behaviour in our contact with others (18%). The Russians are also particularly irritated by our latent or open "thirst for superiority", and they fail to understand our constant industriousness and impatience. "Those who hurry will be laughed at!", is a Russian saying. So, we Germans are probably often laughed at, aren't we?
Despite this rather critical assessment, the study also revealed curiosity, openness and recognition for the German co-operation partners on the Russian side. How do I best motivate a Russian? By appealing to his/her willingness to help. Being close to and accepting a person have a greater impact than status or diligence. And how do I demotivate a Russian? By offering low pay and by filling all the key positions in a company with Germans.
This and some more information can be found in Personalwirtschaft 2/95: Russland Knigge, managerSeminare 74/04: Entdeckungen im Osten: Personalentwicklung in Russland (Discoveries in the East: Staff Development in Russia)
Hungary & Germany
Compared to the (subtly) positive statements of the Russians about us Germans, the comments made by the Hungarians were noticeably more critical. 94% of those questioned also confirmed that being pedantic was our number one characteristic. This was followed by the characteristic of arrogance. A Hungarian round of talks helped when interpreting this statement. Of course, we (Hungarians) are very proud ourselves – not like the Russians who put up with much more. So, this easily makes for a clash of two arrogant nationalities. At any rate, the Hungarians do not like it at all when they are put into the same drawer as the other Eastern European countries ("We aren't Slavs!"). When it comes to their workstyle and their speed, the Hungarians are indeed much more similar to the Germans than for example to the Russians. And unlike the Estonians, Russians and Slovaks, the Hungarians are much more prepared for open criticism.
However, there were significant differences to us Germans regarding for example motivation. While German managers can indeed be motivated by means of non-material factors (recognition, career advancement opportunities, interesting job), for the pragmatic Hungarians their income, the atmosphere at work and a secure employment count.
This and some more information can be found in Personalwirtschaft 11/95: Ungarn. Westen des Ostens (Hungary. The West of the East).
Estonia & Germany
The most interesting aspect of this study was the similarity of the hierarchy of values governing Germans and Estonians. Diligence and a sense of duty come top for both countries. Both countries equally think that initiative pays off. This applies in a similar way to moral behaviour. For both Germany and Estonia, "honesty and playing by the rules in every respect" comes second (compared to place no. 9 in Russia and 5 in Hungary). Pragmatism ranks third. Apparently, you can equally rely on an objective and purpose-oriented way of thinking in both countries.
However, the Estonians, too, would like us Germans to show more openness and warmth in our personal contacts and at work.
This and some more information can be found in Personalwirtschaft 10/96: Erst die Arbeit, dann die Liebe (First work, then love).
Slovakia & Germany
The major problem in any German-Slovakian co-operation seems to be the different attitude towards open criticism. In this context, many a German boss has probably committed more faux pas than he/she may have realised. A good "dressing down" can easily drive an employee to take several weeks of sick leave or &nadsh; what's worse, because it's not noticeable - to resign internally. Apart from that, our study revealed that concrete problems at work can be solved in a very similar way by Germans and Slovaks. On no account must German employers commit the mistake of rating a good atmosphere at work and apparent work satisfaction as more important than the salary when it comes to retaining staff members. If another company offers a better paid job - and that is currently easily possible in some regions in Slovakia - the nice staff member will be gone soon. This and further information can be found in Ost-West-Contact 10/99: Wer sind die Slowaken? (Who are the Slovaks?).
Great Britain & Germany
After the more or less open criticism of us Germans, we did not hold out any great hopes of escaping the interview unscathed. Then, however, we were presented with a nice surprise: 81% of the British were of the opinion that Germans are very good co-operation partners. "Different enough to complement each other, similar enough to co-operate!" was how one of the British managers aptly put it. Geert Hofstede – as you will surely know, the leading cultural authority from the Netherlands – had already established the enormous similarity between Britons and Germans in 1991. In two out of four cultural dimensions, Britons and Germans show almost identical results. They have similar ideas concerning power and hierarchy, as both prefer a leadership style based on the spirit of partnership (the cultural dimension of distance to power). Besides, both countries show high results on the "masculinity" scale, which in every day life has an impact on similar notions of competition and performance.
The differences found by Geert Hofstede concerning the dimensions of "avoiding insecurity" and "individualism" also reflect points of friction which Germans and Britons experience when co-operating: We Germans often virtually offend the British without even realising that. In addition, we are sticklers to the rules and often do not show enough openness for creative and new solutions - for fear that, if adopted, nothing may work any more.
This and more information can be found in Juve Rechtsmarkt 01/2005: Kulturelle Spielregeln: Wie gut ist die Zusammenarbeit zwischen Deutschen und Briten? (Cultural rules: How good is German-British co-operation?), Projektmagazin 24/2004: Wie gut kooperieren Deutsche und Engländer? (How well do the Germans and the British co-operate?)
France & Germany
What the French dislike most when co-operating with the Germans is the following: 1. The strict separation of work and private life. 2. The inability to deviate from a strict agenda during a meeting if an interesting discussion arises. 3. Interference in the area of responsibility of a staff member as well as the ever-present desire to co-ordinate decisions. Those who have read Philippe D'Iribarne's book "Honour, Consensus, Contract" will particularly understand the last point better, which is especially crucial. The French principle of "honour" means that you feel 100% responsible for a task. Tell your cleaning lady how she should mop the floors, and she will tell you where to go, even if you are the managing director.
The rather German and Dutch principle of "consensus", on the other hand, means that even if you are the boss, you consult others when making decisions. If a German acts like that, a Frenchman will quickly take over responsibility and make a decision (if the German guy cannot assume responsibility for his decision, it was probably too much for him!). The French also wish the Germans were more relaxed and patient on the one hand, and more emotional on the other. The last point may also refer to an open argument.
This and further details can be found in: Wirtschaft und Weiterbildung 09/2006: Knowing me, knowing you.
China & Germany
This survey started with a teaching lesson in German-Chinese co-operation. "How are you getting on? Are there any problems? When will we receive the Chinese data?" This was what we repeatedly asked our Chinese co-operation partners. "Everything is fine", was the constant reply. Shortly before having to hand over the study to the publisher, when time was becoming increasingly short and our inquiries increasingly insistent, the truth came to light. "All this is not working. The Chinese do not understand the questions! I can't do that." Hence, one of the major problems of Chinese-German co-operation was revealed even before the study: As a German, do not expect to be informed openly about problems or errors that have happened. Your Chinese partner will do everything to initially solve the problem himself/herself – and if that fails, he/she will sweep it under the carpet.
In spite of the enormous cultural differences, the majority of Chinese people who were questioned in our survey said that the co-operation with the Germans was working quite well, because there are three points in which the two agree: diligence, pragmatism and politeness. Their picture of Germany was altogether positive. In particular, the German social security system was emphasised and the very courageous tackling of former war crimes. However, even the Chinese thought that according to their experience, the Germans had a "square head", as they far too often lose their focus on what's essential, as they become too involved in a secondary battlefield, due to their attention to detail and rules.
This and further information can be found in: China Contact 7/2004: Mit den Augen des Partners (Seen with your partner's eyes), Projektmagazin 17/2005: Deutsch-chinesische Kooperation erfolgreich gestalten (How to make German-Chinese co-operation work successfully).
After the merger - How do the cultures grow to become one and what can HR do?
We have experienced both scenarios with our customers: The "swallowing up" of another firm and "being swallowed up." We already know from relevant literature that when this happens, companies often trip up over soft facts – particularly culture incompatibility. In this context, the corporate culture plays an even bigger role than the national cultures. In an ideal case, the cultural integration of two companies takes into consideration the aspects of the two cultures, as they impact on one another in real life. The following will describe different approaches and published TWIST projects which show how the HR Department can further the cultural integration process.
Acceptance of a new corporate culture
When one of our old-established customers from the insurance industry was bought up by an American company, there was initially a great deal of insecurity. What would happen to the staff? Which of the cherished routines and (in the worst case) colleagues would have to be sacrificed? The fact that the new company had its head office in Bermuda, of all places, initially added to the general suspicion.
Of course, there were changes – and none too few. However, the new management was wise enough to finance a project designed to help staff familiarise themselves with the new reality more quickly and – what's more – dedicate themselves to the new tasks with enjoyment and full commitment. A very experienced senior consultant devised a seminar programme together with the HR manager, which succeeded in accomplishing mainly three things:
1. Picking up the participants where they were left. This gave some room to the staff members to openly talk about all their frustration, fears and opposition, and the respective causes, and their real feelings, and have them accepted.
2. Saying good-bye to the old: The former company was symbolically buried. The things which were personally worth taking over to the new company were identified and named. And there was also some relief in getting rid of one or the other old hat.
3. Very personal values of every individual staff member were identified and matched to the corporate values of the new parent company. In doing so, the principle of "thinking globally, acting locally" was upheld, as the American values (ethics, team work, outstanding quality, development and respect) were defined as "German" values by the staff members themselves and accompanied by behavioural examples, which they could also support in the future.
Although a lot of executives and staff members had initially shown resistance ("psychological rubbish"), the programme was a roaring success. Often it works much better if you do not just allow room for logical but also psychological aspects.
Cf. managerSeminare 85/2005; Abschied vom Alten (Saying good-bye to the old).
If tension arises between two national cultures during their daily work
Example 1: The Slovaks and the Austrians
A high level of staff turnover and sick leave which went beyond the tolerable limits of the company caused the HR department to send external consultants to operations in Slovakia with an intercultural workshop. There, they often found the constellation of an Austrian being the head of the operation and a high percentage of the staff being Slovaks. In this case, it was helpful, for a change, to get started on the theoretical basis of the cultural dimensions of the Slovaks and the Austrians.
Virtually all the problems which had emerged between the boss and his staff could be deduced from these dimensions - without one side having to tell. Particularly the "high level of masculinity" of the Austrians - they quickly start to yell without any bad intention - in combination with a strong humanist characteristic which approves of open criticism ("Tell me what I'm doing wrong, so that I can learn") collides head on with the Slovakian values. Hence, most of the problems were down to dealing with criticism. After the workshops, all the participants were relieved: The other one is not actually a bad guy but abides by different rules. Both sides agreed on rules for their future co-operation.
(Cf. Gabor Journal 08/1999: Slowaken nehmen Kritik persönlicher (Slovaks take criticism more personally)
Example 2: The French and the Germans
The aim of the measure conducted on behalf of the leading international IT service provider Atos Origin S.A. was to bridge the intercultural gaps between German and French professional and managerial staff. On the basis of a top-down preliminary interview (yes, even the board members had to take part!), the participants of the workshop were initially questioned specifically about the frequency and the quality of their intercultural interaction as well as about the feelings accompanying this interaction and the suggestions for improvement for their fellow countrymen and the other culture for future interaction. This ensured a tailor-made design of the workshop for the participants.
During the workshops themselves - here, again the board members had to be the first to participate - further measures and results were collected and specified, in order to facilitate intercultural interaction between the Germans and the French in the future. For instance, the establishment of a common language was agreed upon as well as binding rules for meetings and project work or a newly to be set up intranet platform enabling all participants to exchange their experience regarding the implementation of what they learned at the workshop. (Cf. Wirtschaft und Weiterbildung 9/2006: Knowing me, knowing you)
Example 3: Cultural intervention during the early stage of a merger
Unfortunately, we have not published this last example. Nevertheless, it should briefly be mentioned in this context, as it tried to avoid cultural misunderstanding before establishing the new structure of the merged company. The example again refers to a German company that was bought by an American one.
We accompanied the negotiations (top down from the board level to the heads-of-department level), which were indeed about controversial issues: The place where what will be decided, produced, financed, organised etc. in the future. In doing so, we exclusively looked at the participants of the talks from an intercultural perspective. One American and one German cultural expert took part in the negotiations as silent observers and took notes during the process. Breaks were held during regular intervals, in which the consultants provided feedback and pointed to cultural misunderstandings or peculiarities ("In this case you've got your wires crossed because..."). Here again, the intervention was received very well and indeed provided some relief in the naturally quite tense atmosphere.
(Those who are interested in finding out more, should talk to our consultant Claudia Wabel, who accompanied this project.)
Local vs. Global: Staff development initiated by the German parent company - What is possible, what isn't?
A lot of our customers have now reached a stage of internationalisation at which it makes sense to apply management criteria and staff development instruments in a uniform fashion across the entire business. Because of insufficient experience, however, a lot of mistakes, which we ourselves also made only a few years ago, continue to be made. Here is an example:
Two German and one Japanese observer from the top management watch a role play exercise during the first assessment centre for Asian participants. During this exercise, the two Germans seem to be considerably at a loss to understand what's going on: the interaction of the two (Asian) participants has more in common with snake charming than with classical critical (German) talk. The criteria are only partly applicable. Their operationalisation (i.e. eye contact, clear address of critical points and the expectations regarding the employee's future behaviour) cannot be observed. However, the Japanese observer praises the talk as indeed very successful – yet he is unable to make his German colleagues truly realise why. In short: It is not enough to simply translate criteria and instruments into English or into the local language. In most cases, they don't make sense.
According to our experience, the following points have to be observed when supplying foreign operations with your own products:
1. Models may be put forward centrally, however, they should be tied to the contents, values and standards existing in the country.
2. Management criteria for the general management (i.e. executives who are to be placed in international positions) may be stipulated and operationalised by the head office. When doing so, cultural differences do not need to be taken into consideration. However, it is advisable to exclude elements that are too German. Here, the language is the standard corporate language (mostly English). Intercultural competence is part of the management profile.
3. Management criteria for executives intended to be primarily placed locally, have to be adjusted in two senses: Not all the criteria are locally sensible, others are missing or superfluous (rule of thumb: 20% may be swapped with local criteria or modified). The operationalisation of the criteria has to take place locally.
4. Particular attention has to be paid to the communication strategy of how operations can be induced to work with others internationally. It is advisable to place a co-operation order (of course phrased like a request) both via the departmental head as well as via the disciplinary superior. This way, it will involve the company's management, which has never done any harm. The question of how a model can be adapted to the values and expectations in the foreign operation (cf. point 1), has been tested and described in a project with XL insurance, (Cf. managerSeminare 85/2005: Abschied vom Alten (Saying good-bye to the old)).
Points 2 to 4 were elaborated and consistently applied in a project with Giesecke & Devrient, which dealt with the assessment of globally appointed operation managers (cf. managerSeminare 101/2006: Der zentral-lokale Spagat (The central-local balancing act)).
German staff development instruments abroad – The example of Russia
Since the middle of the 1990s, we have been able to gather a particular amount of quite diverse experience in Russia. In co-operation with Olga Semidelichina, HR expert at E.ON Ruhrgas AG, we offered Russian executives a number of Western seminar topics, training methods, feedback instruments and workshops. During this process, we always avoided playing the role of the "know-all westerners", but rather tried to work out with the Russians which of the methods and topics offered were sensible and acceptable for them, and which were so to a lesser extent and why.
In addition to the different corporate structures and stages of corporate development, it is mostly two very strongly differing cultural dimensions between Russians and Germans which make a staff development instrument recommendable or not. Russian fatalism (vs. humanism in Germany) questions every development thought and the sense of feedback. Instead, in Russia diagnostics for the purpose of placement and tolerance makes sense. Collectivism (vs. individualism in Germany) makes it difficult for the individual to stand out from the group and to discuss a point of view in a controversial way or defend an opinion against the remaining part of the group. In return, we can still learn a lot from the Russians when it comes to the issue of teamwork. They proved to be far ahead of western groups, as their ego (e.g. who it is that has made the proposal) is much more quickly sacrificed for the sake of the common task (i.e. which proposal is the best in order to reach the aim).
Any kind of group work in seminars and workshops is easily accomplished and leads to good results. However, German seminar methods (chairs arranged in a circle, interactive elaboration of contents, working in smaller sub-groups, presentations, videos etc.) are initially something the Russians need to get used to. In many places, people initially expect training to take place from the front, and it is recommendable to invite the group to succumb to a completely new way of being taught.
We have had good experience with most topics and seminar contents. The Russian executives were curious, open-minded and very willing to learn. Still, there are some staff development instruments, which according to our experience turned out to be difficult or not very suitable.
Time Management Seminars (the concepts do not fit, Russians have a polychromatic notion of time, i.e. working on topics not in a chronological order but simultaneously. Therefore, our form of time planning seems almost absurd to them - it makes you completely inflexible!)
PC Simulation for Business-Minded Thinking and Acting (this is still miles from Russian reality; if you have earmarked little time for that in a seminar, it's best left untouched).
Assessment Centre, Management Audits (only after very thorough preparation and introduction: Feedback is "torture" if you do not believe that people can change; the choice of assessment centres is too far-fetched from every day reality; the job will go to the nephew anyway).
Team Development (here, it would be better to conduct family therapy, as the people are much more strongly interlinked privately – so quite often this is a hornets' nest! Our usual tools, which are mostly based on feedback and on addressing conflicts openly, also met with bewilderment.)
Cf. managerSeminare 74/04: Entdeckungen im Osten (Discoveries in the East) und Jahrbuch Personalentwicklung 2007 (Yearbook Staff Development 2007), Schwuchow/Gutmann (Hrsg./Editors)
The experience you gather as a trainer in Russian seminars is described by our consultant Sonja Nitsch in an entertaining contribution. (Cf. managerSeminare 74/2004: Aus dem Tagebuch einer Trainerin (Extracts from a trainer's diary)).
And finally, a gem: Assessment Centres in Russia
In co-operation with Russian staff developers from 14 operations of Gazprom AG, we developed an assessment centre devised by Russians for Russians. Over three time zones, HR members from the location of the seminar in Kaliningrad telephoned their managing directors in order to adjust the Russian management criteria to the corporate strategy. In doing so, quite some agreements were found with the expectations people have of good managers in Germany. The Russians, too, are of the opinion that criteria such as intercultural competence, efficient work organisation, teamwork, leadership and decision-making behaviour are necessary and sensible when assessing an executive. Nevertheless, there were also new criteria – strange to us – and the operationalisation of some criteria was equally odd:
There is the criterion of "personal attractiveness", for example, which refers to more things or rather different ones than the criterion of "appearance & charisma" which is common over here. It relates to good manners, reserve, the ability to keep one's distance or to control one's voice, humour and a sense of appropriate humour (when it is okay to make a joke and when it is inappropriate) as well as being perfectly made up if you are a woman.
When it comes to the criterion of "business communication", the following aspects were mentioned among other things: Tolerance of and empathy with the negotiation partner, staying calm and quiet when conflicts arise, adapting the volume and tone of one's voice to that of the discussion partner.
These and further criteria and experience during the fascinating exchange with Russian colleagues were published in co-operation with Olga Semidelichina from E.ON Ruhrgas AG in 2006 (cf. managerSeminare 97/2006: Ein AC von Russen für Russen (An assessment centre devised by Russians for Russians)).