A global technology company has decided to transfer its financial processes from Germany to an SSC centre in Poland.
During the transition process, there were challenges in terms of German-Polish cooperation. Most were in the area of communication. Although around 30 people were involved in the transit itself, the company intended to expand Polish-German cooperation in the near future.
Intercultural training improves cooperation
As a first step towards mutual understanding, we offered webinars to all employees in Poland and Germany who are already working together or will be working together in the near future. As the language of cooperation depended on the process and some employees were unavailable at certain times, we implemented 4 webinars in German or English at different times so that every employee had a real chance to participate. A total of around 150 employees from Poland and Germany have participated. The webinars addressed points of contact typical of Polish-German cooperation in the context of a Shared Service Centre and gave the knowledge needed to manage communication within the company.
Polish-German cooperation – workshop
Those who had already participated in the transition attended two workshops in the second step. The groups were selected so that there were approximately equal numbers of Polish and German participants in each. During the workshops, the emphasis was on building relationships and openness and on gaining effective communication skills. The workshops were conducted in German.
Preparation. Company management on the Polish and German sides was involved in the preparation. The project was implemented with a long-term cooperation orientation. Thanks to the refined project objectives, the workshop participants were selected appropriately. The workshops addressed the real challenges of the participants, which we gathered during individual diagnostic interviews.
Synergy at the senior management level. Thanks to the involvement of the German and Polish management in the preparation and debriefing of the project, there was a shared and better understanding of the existing challenges and space for more working side by side in facing them together.
Practical conclusions of the participants:
- Instead of writing long emails, we will find it easier to discuss problems straight away on the phone
- Let’s give each other more space to ask questions about the process
- See each other as a team, we are a team
- After long conversations, let’s have a written summary to catch the most important points – Speak slower in German
- If something is needed by a certain date, indicate this in an e-mail
- It’s a good idea to call briefly to clarify whether everything is clear in the e-mail
- Start the call with a relaxed conversation
- Avoid capital letters and the colour red in email communication
- Give each other feedback on an ongoing basis, keep in touch
- Offer each other support
- We want to communicate openly and in a friendly/serious manner
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes
Getting to know the German and Polish way of thinking, work culture and approach to project management helped both parties to work out the rules of a new, multicultural team.
If you are starting to work with another culture, or want to improve existing processes, we invite you to the intercultural training Effective cooperation with the Indians, Germans, French… and other cultures.