An intercultural training for Germany makes the transition for foreign employees moving to a German company easier. Part one highlighted types of approach, applications, and target audiences for the training. This post talks about the topics typically found in a Germany workshop and provides tips for preparation and execution.
Intercultural trainings for Germany should be customized according to the audience. What is the training’s goal? Is this a preparation for a short project or should the workshop prepare for a longer stay in Germany? What previous knowledge are the attendees bringing to the table and how international is the group? With these questions answered, the training topics can be specifically tailored. Here are few examples:
Topics for intercultural trainings for Germany
Reputation of the Germans: Punctual, serious, and precise?
A good start for a Germany training is to brainstorm the country’s image. Some negative stereotypes as well as positive images about Germans prevail. The history of both countries in question is a big factor in this. Additionally, the respective countries’ media have a significant influence on the matter. Within international groups it is particularly interesting to simultaneously discover that one’s view of foreign countries is heavily influenced by one’s home country and culture. Nobody is completely free of stereotypes, however, they should never become a serious burden for collaboration. To avoid this, it is helpful to address possible bias in a relaxed atmosphere – e.g. during playful exercises – and question their validity.
Classics of German work and communication culture
Certainly there is no one German business culture – as little as there is the German. However, polls and studies show that there are a few elements of German work and communication habits that quite consistently stand in contrast to other cultures. Examples of these include a relatively direct way of communicating, a tendency to plan thoroughly, as well as a strong inclination to adhere to rules and norms. Apart from that, the separation of private life and work is counted among the stronger disparities. Additionally, a focus on facts instead of personal relationships can be observed in countries like Germany. Depending on their origin, these characteristics can be very unfamiliar for the newly arrived. Participants of intercultural trainings for Germany are made aware of this. Practical exercises help to get a feel for how communication and cooperation in their new home country work. Experience shows that insecurities and potential for conflict, which are usually prevalent during the first few months, can be significantly reduced in this manner.
Germany Training: Tips for preparation and execution
An earlier post provided six tips for the preparation and execution of intercultural measures. Among them was the recommendation to work with an experienced coach.
Once again: Long-term cooperation with an experienced coach
Using a Germany workshop as an example, this recommendation can be explained as follows: Through regular cooperation, the coach can form a good understanding of the German host company and its business culture. He can then incorporate this knowledge in his classes. On the other hand, long-term cooperation makes it possible to stay in contact and follow up with foreign attendees. How did the training help? What topics should be addressed in more detail? During a long-term collaboration it is easier for the trainer to take reports and requests into consideration for future use.
Addressing the home country and native language
Country-specific trainings should not isolate cultures or other countries. The goal is not to look at the German culture as a special case. Many aspects of intercultural communication can be applied across other cultures and contacts. Additionally, the participants from the home country should also not be treated as special, e.g. by proposing that all French people have a problem with a particular characteristic of the Germans. It is, however, helpful if the trainer is familiar with the participants’ home cultures in order to better address their needs. Some issues remain prevalent between certain countries, for instance when it comes to directness vs. indirectness in German-English exchanges. Language plays a big role in this instance. In many cases it is particularly useful if the trainer is proficient in the native language of the participants. The language barrier in workshops is often underestimated. Experience shows that attendees sometimes find it easier to express their sorrows and needs in their own tongue. In these cases, it is the trainer’s job to react with empathy.
No one-way street: Trainings for international groups
International trainings for Germany are a friendly gesture to welcome foreign employees to their new home country. Of course, at the same time, they are expected to gradually integrate and adapt. Intercultural trainings are also recommended for the host party in order to contribute in a helpful way to international teams. If both sides have acquired a level of understanding for their own and the other culture, barriers for successful collaboration are greatly reduced. The next part provides concrete exercises for intercultural trainings for Germany with an example workshop for attendees from China.