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Esti event – IT jobs Amsterdam: ‘Corporate: An environment of unlimited opportunities and cultural diversity’, by Anne Parker

Corporate: An environment of unlimited opportunities and cultural diversity

Anne Parker, author of the book The Mobile Life; A new approach to moving anywhere’,
trainer of culture and internationals skills, and Learning Success Manager at
Booking.com

By Stefani Mans

When considering work in a corporate environment we often think of such an environment as positive. it’s interesting, creative and diverse. However, there are also aspects of a multicultural environment that can be challenging and are important to consider. Such aspects as who has the power and how is it distributed within the company? How much information is passed downwards within the company? How much autonomy and self-drive is expected within employees? How do people communicate, what do they say or leave unsaid, how do they debate and give their opinion? These aspects are key values of the corporate environment and it is important to know what type of values you have and how they will align with those of a company you are interested in.

Direct and indirect communication styles

Anne explains that in a work environment, how you communicate your message e.g. via words or with body language and intonation also conveying a message, can play an important role in the communicating process and therefore the culture of an organisation. She states that: ‘there is a big difference between people who say ‘yes’ and the words carry the message (direct) and for other people ‘yes, can mean many things depending on the context (indirect).”

This difference can have a big impact on the way in which people discuss and debate business issues, direct communication can seem challenging and combative in it’s extreme, indirect style can seem collaborative and harmonious. To illustrate this, she made use of funny anecdotes drawn from experiences of her personal life: ‘Being British and having children who grow up in Holland and have developed a far more challenging style of communication, leaves my parents flabbergasted sometimes when we visit.’

Culture, values and communication styles

In an international corporate you have multiple nationalities left and right from you. She emphasis that depending on culture there are different cultural values with specific ways of distributing power, on who makes decisions and sharing information. In Holland, generally people are used to what Anne refers to as ‘a democratic, equal style of leadership’. This can lead to differences when dealing with employers or employees that are used to a hierarchical leadership style where a manager will make the decisions and pass information on when required. At the same time this type of manager will also protect their team members from the challenges and issues happening at other parts of the business.

The mobile life:

When she moved to another country she found that there was not enough adequate literature and information about the topic of moving to a different country. Titles like ‘how to survive a culture shock’ did not appeal to her: ‘I don’t want to be in shock,’ she jokes. Other well intended but obvious and cliché tips like ‘bring food for the kids’ were missing the point. To fill this gap in pragmatic knowledge about how to adapt to a new context when moving countries, she wrote the book ‘The mobile life’. In her book, she shows that project management, change management – and self-leadership skills can help you to adapt to new environment successfully.

Dis-identifying 

Maarten asked: “In your book, you write about dis-identifying, can you elaborate more on this concept?’ Anne answered: “When you move you change context. You move away from family, friends your work and routine and it is important that you create proper closure for yourself so you can move on with a clean slate. It helps you take in the decision and commitment you have taken.’ She then illustrates the situation making use of a metaphor in project management: ‘If you finish a project you acknowledge that its done, close that chapter and move on with on another project. The same principal applies to your decision to move to a different country. She states: ‘apply project management and self-leadership skills, which will help you to be successful in another country as well as a corporate environment.

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