Coaching German Style Ч Opportunities Squared
- By Marina Marshenkulova
- Oct. 01 2014 00:00
For more than 10 years FBK-Coaching has integrated the best German practices into Russia's business environment. Eleonora Sandulenko, General Director, FBK-Coaching, spoke to Marina Marshenkulova.
Could you describe your company's business?
FBK-Coaching provides the services of coaching, training and change management mainly to German companies in Russia. Ninety-five per cent of our customers are German companies like Volkswagen, Liebherr and others. The company also publishes professional German books in Russian for HR specialists, trainers, coaches and senior managers.
Is there a difference between Russian and German managers?
I'll give you one example from my coaching experience, which clearly illustrates the difference in mentality. A German top manager from a major company noticed mistakes in a report by his Russian assistant and asked her to correct them. Imagine how surprised he was when he came out of his office some time later to find her crying in the corridor. When he asked, "Why are you crying?" he got no answer and was left absolutely confused.
What happened there? The woman reacted with pain to his comments, thinking he was trying to hurt or even fire her. As a result, instead of a corrected report we have a sobbing employee and a perplexed manager. The level of relationships outweighed the actual issue. To improve communication and eliminate misunderstanding, we use a model called "four ears", which was developed by the father of communicative psychology, Professor Schulz von Thun. Every message has four levels: facts, self-revelation of the speaker, the attitude and an appeal for further action. Hence, the communication problem: a German manager often communicates at the level of facts and a Russian colleague perceives all the information at the level of relations.
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg encrypted in the cultural codes of Russia and Germany. Both sides can and should be able to learn how to decrypt it, both at the level of personal relations, boss-to-subordinate, and at the level of the organization, when changes are introduced. We are convinced that the synergy of two cultures, the neutral (German) and emotional (Russian) as defined by Fons Trompenaars, can improve business opportunities for both sides.
Do you maintain relations with your clients once the work is done?
Yes, continue to commnicate with them in a free mode. But coaching is a self-help method. As Germans say: 'Hilfe zur selbsthilfe,' or help for self-help. This is what coaching is all about. A coach must prepare† clients to cope with problems themselves and to be able to find a solution for any situation.