According to the BFS, the total number of expats living in Switzerland by the end of 2013 rose to 1.9 million. Every year thousands of international executives come to work to Switzerland and experience the interesting mixed business culture due to Its diverse population like the French, Italian and German speakers.
May be you are an expat executive that just have arrived. New expats executives might find very peculiar situations in their business environments while interacting with colleges. My clients have had similar impressions in their first weeks of work. They have found a little bit of resistance while they were proposing new ideas to be implemented in short term. Most of the times the expat executive might think this resistance could be on a personal level. But it is not. Everything that influences the way the people have been doing things in the company so far, takes a reaction of resistance every where not only here. Just give them time. Do not forget, that you are the new one who does not know how the things has been working all these years.
Do not try to innovate the very first day and do not show that you are a better or smarter executive than the locals. Before you expose any idea to be implemented, get to identify the most influential people in the division in other to get their support for implementing changes.
Do not speed up. Try to learn about them while working with them and learn about their tempo. Speeding the things up is not a good way to start new work relations with your Swiss colleges either. They take their time to do their tasks.
When you are addressing to your colleges in a day to day business relation, it is the rule to address them very formal using their last name and their titles until they instruct otherwise. In some american companies and specially in business environments with young executives you may see they address to each other using their first name.
In an executive environment mixed with executives of other cultures like Italian, Spanisch, Portuguese, people from Latin America and from India working together in a German Swiss environment. you will notice the differences in emotional behavior within the groups. Openness in the communication like saying the things direct without any anesthesia might be ok for the German and German Swiss executives, while at the same time, expats from other cultural groups have to stay focused and control their emotions.
Very important aspects of executive business environment in Switzerland are for example, emphasis on their level of educational degrees achieved, organizational rank and achievements. Trust in multicultural blended business environments is not one of the strengths here. People like dealing only with people they know, and often expect long-term commitments from their associates. Negotiations can be prolonged by the trust-building process, and the Swiss eye for detail and respect for procedure. It’s a merit-based business environment, but trust is still important to negotiations.
Executive coaching for expats specialized in multicultural coaching is a fundamental tool to succeed in your career. This is what executive coaching in successchoices can do for you:
Maria Griselda Mueller
is a professional life and executive coach specialized in expats life and cross-cultural support. She is originally from Venezuela, has lived in more than ten countries around the world and has a Master certification in psychological coaching.