作者: Janis Chen, Senior Consultant of Infelligent Coaching & Consulting Inc.

This has been a wonderful winter for me to explore and experience different work and lifestyle cultures again. I stayed in the London office and had a few meetings in branch offices around the UK, a week for in-depth Whiskey tasting in Dufftown, Scotalnd , and a few weeks chilling and socializing in Waalre, a Southern Dutch village during the Christmas & New Year holiday.

My French-Australian friend asked: How was London? I hope you had a good time despite the poor weather; my Taiwanese-American friend said: It’ll be freezing cold and snowing in Europe. So, the truth is that there was only one rainy day during my whole stay in the UK, some light snow for a couple hours in Dufftown, and a warm holiday and mostly Sunny in Waalre.

“We don’t see things as they are… we see things as we are.” said Anaïs Nin. When observing different cultures, we tend to make general observations based on our knowledge and experience, and then we take these categorizations of general observations and apply them to whole groups of people. We stereotype everyone in those groups, and ignore individual difference.

Are we looking at things through our own sunglasses? After training expats all these years and being an expat myself, I found two critical issues when working in a new cultural environment. Are you aware of the self-knowledge with regarding to interpersonal communication? Do you have a non-judgemental look with an ability of observing different values and behaviours?

Here are things to consider when an expat is assigned to a new workplace.

Corporate culture

Why type of culture do you want to cultivate in your organization?

How would you cultivate a climate in your organization that fits your vision and mission?

Where does current culture exist in the organization today? Will you transform it?

Customer relationships

What kind of customer relationships do you need to put your strategy into place?

Which business units have already built this type of relationships?

Who excels at building customer relationships?


What style of leadership do you need to cultivate?

Are there people in the organization that exhibit this behaviour already?

What are their behaviours that make them effective leaders?


Where do you need to accelerate organizational learning and knowledge management?

What part of the organization manages this task very well already?

Who are the key drivers for organizational learning and what makes them so successful?


What are the core business processes?

Who are the people in the organization that manage these processes better than anyone else?

What behaviours make their management processes so much better than others?


What type of employees do you regard as “critical” for the future of the organization?

Who excels at recruiting, developing, and leading these “critical” people already?

What behaviours make these critical people successful?

What are the factors for these critical people’s key success?