You can communicate by talking a lot, but you can also communicate by listening first. Jonas Bikov has decided to listen. As a member of various product launch teams in the Consumer Division, he often finds himself involved in intercultural exchanges. “Our teams are made up of members from a wide variety of markets. The buying behavior of our customers is different in each country and there are special cultural codes that must be observed. You can’t just come up with a campaign in the United States or Germany and believe that it will work the same everywhere. You would be in for a few surprises,” he says.
When Jonas came to Sennheiser four years ago, the world was very different. This kind of international team was a fairly new development. “Quite a few structural arrangements were put in place to make this collaboration possible in the first place, but of course it takes more than a theoretical framework. Culture can also make it more difficult to speak openly. We had to find common ground, and that was only possible if everyone placed their trust in one another. Ultimately, you need an appreciative environment in which everyone dares to speak their minds and to discuss their ideas.”
What happens if five participants each have a different opinion and no consensus can be reached? It hasn’t happened to Jonas yet, but he’s prepared in case it does. “If there is any doubt, always try to reach a compromise. It doesn’t have to be less satisfactory than the original idea. It is always easier to put any concerns on the table from the outset than it is to try to manipulate something at the last minute and end up with a less-than-perfect solution.”
You can’t escape this silo mentality. This certain distrust of new processes and ways of working. It’s only natural. However, you can overcome these issues by showing trust and interacting with other team members. “Perhaps that’s simply my nature. I know all too well what it is like to be considered a minority and to have to fight to be heard.” As a result, Jonas has a very keen sense when it comes to giving others a voice and bringing together colleagues from a wide variety of markets. The teams have already been able to tear down a multitude of barriers and help to eliminate the silo mentality. Long may it continue.