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Before you begin working your way to foreign language fluency, it helps to understand the culture behind the language you’re learning. After all, language exists to help a group of people express their ideas and beliefs. Germany is an old country with a rich history and culture. As you begin your German language program, gaining a strong grasp on this history, the values, and the etiquette will help you rapidly achieve success. In particular, Germans are known for their precision, strategy and hard work when it comes to business endeavors, but they also put a great deal of priority on teamwork.
Despite the fact that the approach to teamwork differes between German and American-British contexts, such differences are clearly irritating, especially, in terms of things like problem solving, team selection, and decision making. In Germany, team members are selected based on seniority and specialization. However, the Americans and British, while they consider seniority and specialization as important, give special importance to people who can accomplish duties. If not handled with caution, this may cause conflicts.
The discussion styles can also cause conflicts. While the Germans focus on understanding the nature of the problem and deriving a solution from it, the American-British identify the problem and discuss the course of action that can be taken to solve the problem.
Another problem could arise during project planning and task delineation. In this, the Germans would prefer going into detailed discussion to craft a clear system and plan while involving deep discussion. The American-British, on the other hand, view this as part of the process of accomplishing a task.
Furthermore, a problem may arise when each member of the team begins working. At this stage, the American-British will want to undertake various informal meetings, both at team and group levels. The Germans, on the other hand, do not expect team and group meetings. Instead, they would want to set their own aims and go on to complete the assigned tasks without help from other teams or groups.
Whereas the Americans and British believe in learning by doing, Germans believe in an agreed plan where work is divided among the team members according to their skills. As a result, the English-speakers fail to interact with their German counterparts on a daily basis. Worse still is the fact that the Germans are sticklers to company rules, norms, standards, and procedures. The American-British outsiders may fail to apply these rules, norms, and standards, or even fail to realize that they exist.
With teamwork, the English-speakers get the opportunity to be more formal and stick to issues within the formal work context. The Americans and the British teamwork members always want to discuss matters outside the formal work setting. This makes the Germans misunderstand them and accuse them of asking irrelevant questions that do not help in accomplishing the task at hand.
The German teamwork members are strict observers of company hierarchies and structures. The American and British counterparts see hierarchies and structures as obstacles that should be removed when a task is in progress. However, a number of rigid company structures are gradually waning among the Germans. The Germans are slowly shifting their focus to things like informal interaction in the workplace and establishment of personal relationships with workmates.
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