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Chinese Manager in Denmark: The Intercultural Coaching Programme Really Made a Difference

After relocating to Denmark, a Chinese quality assurance manager needed to know more about the differences between Danish and Chinese work culture. C3’s intercultural executive coaching programme strengthened her leadership development and improved the communication with Danish employees and colleagues.

Having worked for a global healthcare company in China for more than ten years, a Chinese manager relocated to Denmark to take up the position as quality assurance manager at one of the company’s manufacturing plants.

The job brought with it new management colleagues and employees, most of them having a Danish background.

Everybody were talking and discussing a lot at meetings

The Chinese manager soon realized that managing in China and managing in Denmark are two different things.

”Working in Denmark, which has a totally different culture compared to China, was a big challenge.

Especially in terms of meetings in Denmark where I, on a weekly basis, participated in meetings. I experienced that everybody were talking and discussing a lot, and often didn’t stick to the topic when discussing things. I was not used to this, and therefore found it difficult to participate in these kinds of meetings and to know when to chip in.

Furthermore, I experienced that the employees posed many more questions than I am used to from China, even about decisions or business goals from the highest leadership level; ‘Why do we do this?’ ‘Why this change?’, etc”.

Needed to know more about the cultural differences

These challenges convinced her that she needed to know more about the cultural differences between Denmark and China to support her leadership development.

After having searched for a suitable training solution, the choice fell on C3 Consulting’s intercultural executive coaching programme – which combines cross-cultural training with one-on-one coaching on individual challenges and goals. The coach for this programme was CEO at C3 Annette Dahl, who is an experienced cross-cultural trainer and coach, and an expert on the differences between Chinese and Danish work and organizational culture.

The programme started with a face to face coaching session where goals were defined, followed by frequent telephone coaching during the next seven months.

The manager says about the programme:

“I had a very structured meeting schedule with Annette – first with a face to face conversation and then weekly follow ups by phone – where Annette gave me really close support.

It really inspired me that Annette had so much hands-on experience with cultural differences between Denmark and China. When I mentioned my challenges with the meetings in Denmark, she could refer to similar situations in other Danish companies working in China. This made me realize that it was not my personal problem, but a problem that arose from cultural differences.“

Practical tools to improve communication and collaboration

The coaching not only gave the manager a better understanding of the cultural differences between Denmark and China; she also gained at number of practical tools to improve communication and collaboration with Danish employees and management colleagues.

”Annette taught me tools like drawing the culture card to diffuse situations and to understand when challenges are not related to the individual, but to cultural differences.

Another practical tool is to use the whiteboard more. Because English is not my mother tongue and not the mother tongue of my Danish colleagues either, writing out things clarified discussions and meetings.

She also showed me a tool called ‘A,B,C’, which helped me a lot to see things from different people’s perspectives and feel more confident at management meetings”.

The programme really made a difference

Already during the programme, the manager succeeded in implementing the new knowledge and tools – with very positive results.

”For example I used to have a lot of doubts whether or not my ideas were valid in the discussions. Now I have learned to just speak my mind and feel more at ease doing this, and I contribute much more at the daily meetings.

I have already recommended this coaching programme to another Chinese working in a Danish company, because to me this programme really made a difference.”

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