Nova is a global talent network, which I joined in December 2015. The Nova Experience is a weekend where about 40 selected network members from all over Europe gather to share, learn and connect.
I still remember that it took me a while to decide if I wanted to go. It was August 2016 and I was commuting back and forth between two countries. In the end I went and it was one of the best decisions that year. My take-aways from the Nova Experience 2016 (theme: “How can a global talent network make Europe a place for everyone?”) where that there are so many talented people in the world which we need to provide with great opportunities, that I don’t want to compromise on my values and that individuality is weird at times.
This intention of this sally is not to argue if companies (and we all in genernal) do benefit from diversity or not. I believe the answer is yes and there are other places to discuss this opinion. I also want to avoid emotionally-loaded aspects of diversity like gender, race, age and the like. This story is about my experience in a project team with a diverse range of ideas. Following the public debate, diversity of ideas means (per se) a good outcome of the project and in the end a good result for the company. And we have created a great result! But it’s naive to think that this happened over night and without any challenges.
Phases of change are a good chance to reflect. Reflect on what I want to do on live, what is important for me and how I want to interact with others. Here are some things I want to focus on even more in future and why they are important to me.
Learning a new language is as exciting as it is nerve-racking. You memorize vocabulary, try to understand the grammar (and all the exceptions from the rule), read your first texts, listen to the radio. But the true challenge with language learning are the social situations. Being surrounded by people that only speak the language you are about to learn. Starting your new job where you are the first non-native colleague to join the team. Joining your target-language-native partner for the first family visit far out of your comfort zone. Which ever situation it is for you, having a person at your side for support is a great way to engage in social stations more easily. But what is it exactly this person should support your with and how do you want to be supported in your social language learning process? Here are some guiding principles which have worked for me, as a learner and a supporter.
Praise for the progress: “Wow, you speak English so well!” sounds familiar? It’s meant as a compliment but actually most of the people saying it can only judge your ability from a specific situation they have meto you in. I stopped saying this sentence. Especially in bigger gatherings. It brings language learners in this awkward situation where everybody joins in and even the last person becomes awarw of the fact that one is non-native. Especially in these rough moments when you are so close to giving up, praising progress is worth a lot. Hearing ‘But do you remember the time you could not even pronounce ‘squirrel’ at all is gold not only in times of despair. It’s a good way to keep track of your progress through the lense of somebody else. This requires the ability to spot systematic errors paired with the ability to share these observations in a motivational way.
Understanding the root-cause for not understanding something: In numerous situations I heard the same sentence all over again even though I was only missing one of the words. Or people directly translated the entire sentence inot my narive languge. This is helpful in situations where information have to travel fast. As a language learning support you are able to spot the root-cause more concretly and take it from there. Which word could be difficult and new? Does the sentence contain a special name or saying? The more time language learner and supporter spend together, the easier it is to figure that out. If you both join the same gathering, a short eye-contact and a whispered word in exchange can ease up the situation and will not stop the ongoing discussion.
If you have to correct, try to do it indirectly: Correcting someone can not only be impolite but destroy the flow of a conversation. There is an easy way out. Instead of correcting the language learner who says “I remember the last time when we meet.” say “Me too. Wasn’t that when we met at Joe’s?”. Correcting in this way has two benefits. First of all, other listerners are now able to follow and the learner hears the correct version as a direct feedback.
Judge someone’s linguistic skills based on several different occasions: Speaking a language depends on your daily mood and energy level. Try not to judge somebody’s language capability from one occasion only.
Decide on a translation target language in case paraphrasing does not work.
Try not to adjust your speaking style of you don’t have to.
While spontaneous parties don’t prepare that much preparation, work scenarios might do. In either way, the language socialisation benefits both the learner and the supporter. It does not only teach language but communication skills.
At the workplace: For that both of the parties have to prepare (training necessary // In bigger teams, decide on distinctive roles “learner”, “socialsator”, “teacher” // Find out and Discuss how someone can support you in social situations // At times it simply will not work out.
In the current issue of Human Resource Management Review (27/3) Marcello Russo, Gazi Islam and Burak Koyuncu bring our attention to a phenomenon I have written about earlier– how language, and more specifically non-native accents could affect our thoughts, feelings and actions in the workplace. Moving towards a diverse workplace often involves bringing people with diverse linguistic backgrounds together. With English as lingua franca this is not problem at all or is it?
This sally has a double-function. Firstly, I want to bring your attention to common learning myths and secondly, how you can use these myths to start diving into the world of research. Earlier, I wrote about evidence-based and research-based HR work and how far we have come already. I still remember how hard it was for me (especially in the beginning) to embrace research papers. They were boring and I did not understand the lengthy parts about statistics which some of them entailed. Today, I am happy that I gave it a try. Because academia contributes a lot to the field of HR. There are great reviews on all kinds of areas within HR and also researcher challenges common beliefs and reveal myths. Learning more about how to read academic research give you the critical competence to be part of the discussion when other HR professionals call their practices research-based. Learning and development is an area where many professionals claim this. Unfortunately a lot of learning myths have nourished a questionable way of learning practice at school and in the workplace. It’s time to dig deeper into this.
Researches found that group members who identify with a group and believe that knowledge acquisition is important, might compensate for technical flaws in the tool used for knowledge management and social collaborations. What are the implications at work from a study which brings back the social context to online collaboration and moves beyond the importance of good user experience for technology supporting it?
Does this look familiar to you? After hours of work you put into a text or a presentation you receive five words of feedback. In the numerous online courses I participated in, peer feedback was a central part of collaborative learning. I believe that the main ideas of peer feedback can be applied at work, too.
We all know that when time is short, it’s easy to send out a simple e-mail like the one above. But on the long run, both feedback giver and feedback taker benefit more from elaborated feedback. As someone giving feedback, you have to force yourself to read and understand the work you received. And as a feedback taker, everything is better than a simple “OK”. In peer-feedback processes in online courses there are sometimes very elaborated questions you have to answer and criteria you have to rate. Here are four simple but effective questions you could answer the next time somebody asks you for feedback:
Research-based and evidence-based have become the new HR buzzwords. They are everywhere. Practitioners start their presentations with a bunch of academic references and the audience becomes quiet. Nobody will ever question the validity and applicability of a Schmidt & Hunter (1998) paper, right?
How we facilitated online collaboration in a multi-national team
In my central function I communicate with a team of roughly 20 people spread across different time zones. It has been a challenge ever since to get them all on the same page. This is what makes it work for us: