A tutorial for (some) German managers

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Maybe this post makes it more clear to German managers, why it is important and also good for business to treat team members (employee is out of date) as the intelligent people they are.

In my country, The Netherlands, managers and the team are working more on eye level, more respectful, more friendly and more relaxed.

of course without losing the focus on success.We have been traders for centuries and being successful is of utmost importance to us.

But working can be fun and still productive. And I can say that The Netherlands is a quite successful country ? That’s the reason why service to the customer is very important to us. We want our customers to be happy, because than they will spend their money πŸ™‚

It’s possible to work hard without being under internal pressure (customer pressure is normal), competition, top-down behaviour but with mutual openness, respect, empathy and appreciation and trust.

AND… it’s also possible to be successful and having fun when doing the job and to have a good and empathic connection with colleagues and management!

Yes, my dear German Managers, having fun at work is something good and it enhances productivity. When team members are happy, they’ll do a better job and might even go a step further). Quite unbelievable? I’ll explain why, so you might understand, depending on your openness to learn from a simple Dutch guy, why it is good for your business to treat your team like intelligent people who are eager to do a good job and to make the company  successful.

I like to  explain things in a pictorial manner. That’s my way of thinking and explaining.

I like to compare a company with a brick and mortar wall.

Each brick is a team member and the bricks on the top are the leading team members (top is meant physically only and not organisational!).

All bricks are held together by mortar. The mortal stands for a deep connection amongst all people in the company. 

This connection is enabled by the bricks on the top row, tha leaders. They achieve this by connecting to te people, let’s even call it networking. Showing personal interest in the well-being of “their” people. Asking them about how the job goes, about possible impediments.

Just let the people know, that they are appreciated and respected and that the Leaders regard them as valuable.

Focussing on strengths

Focussing on the strength of a team member is essential. We ALL (you too dear managers!) have our strong and weak sides. This is normal, this is natural and this is human. And we’re ALL human being.

To focus and to evolve someone’s strength, instead of moaning about his or hers weakness, is much more economic. To talk about  what’s good about a person, makes the person happy (oh there’s that word HAPPY again!) and makes his or hers self-esteem stronger.

This enhances the team member’s motivation, which leads to better results. people who feel comfortable like the work they’re doing and when someone loves what he or she is doing, she or he does it better (no idea if this is elegant English but I can’t be bothered πŸ™‚ )

Failure Culture

I attend quite some Meet-ups in Berlin and I hear frighteningly often that people are told off and sometimes even screamed off when they make a mistake.


It’s even a sign of insecureness. A person who starts screaming shows that his rhetorical ability is quite basic.

When somebody makes a mistake, it’s normal to tell him or her that she did so. But there’s absolutely no reason to become hysterical.

The best approach is to find out where the mistake started and why the mistake was made. By doing a “mistake-research, all participants learn.

The leader sees where and why mistakes take place and get new insights and can keep it in mind for a possible next time. The, let’s say, developer gets a logical insight by going the road “backwards”. This has a learning effect which will avoid that he or she makes the same mistake again.

Companies, who go in new directions, also make mistakes. But that’s fine. Mistakes exist to learn and to improve.

That’s also a national problem in Germany. Germany , the “land of poets and thinkers” (German: Dichter und Denker), thinks too much sometimes.

Germans like everything absolutely organized and before they start something new, they think and think and think and…yes… think untill they have removed all possible problems. Theoretical problems which might never occur.

Germans are not really brave and sometimes even not self-assured. Thy need a stable life. Nice house, nice little garden, a wife, children, a dog and the holy car. As long as everything stays the same, Germans are happy folks.

There is a phenomenon in  Germany. It’s called “The black Zero”. Also called “Die Schuldenbremse” (Financial Dept Brake | bad translation. I know πŸ™ πŸ™‚ )

The focus lies on a zero balance, no financial dept. This supports the not innovative German mindset which is always focussing on Security, security and more security.

Germany doesn’t understand, that we’re living in a world of exploration, discovery, change, disruption, curiosity and braveness. Standing still means going back.

Due to this fact, innovation and infrastructure are ignored, because innovation and renovating German’s infrastructure demands spending money.

“No! No! We worship the BLACK ZERO! Our fetish! We don’t care that our streets are desolate, that our public transport is a mess. As long as we don#t invest, we will be without debt”. 

This behaviour also takes place in many German companies.

It seems that managers are frightened to change things. Maybe even disrupt old products, old marketing routines, old customer service or start thinking about modern customer services (personalized customer service for example) and new internal structures like working WITH the people in the company instead of playing Mr. Scrooge, the dictator in “A Christmas Carrol” from Charles Dickens.

Many German CXOs seem not to understand, that their people are intelligent, motivated people who want to be successful themselves by making the company successful. Not only to be able to pay my rent, but also to represent a great company!


When I meet a person for the first time, he or she gets a trust bonus automatically. It seems that German employers think that employees want to cheat the company and the management and that their only goal is to do bad things.

“Employees are mowing their garden”.

I find this attitude quite an insulting and  even impertinent towards grown-up and intelligent people. How dare managers to be so impolite and respectless to suspect people before they really get to know them!

Doesn’t the law say “a suspect is innocent until proven guilty”?

Working together demands mutual trust. Everything else creates a poisoned atmosphere!

Trust goes also for trusting people, that they are able to perform certain tasks. Challenge people with more responsibility and more demanding.

When someone gets signalised that he or she is trusted, he or she will “grow”. His self-esteem will become stronger and he or she will be more motivated, to fulfill the expectations.


“Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states. Types of empathy include cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and somatic empathy.”

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy

For a leader it is very important, to understand the people he or she works with. We are all individuals, with our own background, our own mindset and our own life.

Working in a company means to embrace compromises. We spent quite a lot of time with people. Often in restricted surroundings, close to each other.

Of course, we do our best to avoid conflicts and we all try to act empathic towards the colleagues. But it is the leader who has to take care, that teams are formed according to the single person’s character.

This is a hard job and it demands a lot of sensitivity, but it will result in a harmonic team which works at it’s best and delivers the best possible results.

Ignoring the uniqueness of a humian being is dangerous. People are not machines who work bluntly what they’re told to do.

Thhey might act thhis way, but inside them their ambition and enthusiasm will slowly die. Sooner or later they’ll become really blunt. Withoud the eagerness to have new ideas for products or internal improvements.

These are team members who do their job to make a living and not to find fulfillment and recognition. They have given up.

Those team members have resigned in their hearts, but stay to make sure that they can pay their rent.

Back to the brick-and-mortar wall πŸ™‚

if management doesn’t care, the mortar will never become solid. The bricks will be part of a wall which is build on routine (I have to go to work unfortunately, but it feels crap).

it won’t be a solid wall, because the mortar was badly  mixed because the essential ingredients are missing. So it can’t be solid and stick the bricks together.

German managers (I’m sorry that I have to say that!) underestimate the importance of a motivated, self-assured and happy (there we go again! πŸ™‚ ) crowd.

They don’t understand, that happy people are happy workers which are motivated and therefore they deliver better results. They come home in a good mood and therefore their private lives are harmonic and happy πŸ˜‰ 

This will result un happier customers who are satisfied and who will come back if they need more products.

And this, my dear managers, will result in better revenues which will enable you to buy your next SUV or your tailored Brioni Suit.

So why don’t you manager guys do yourself a favour and take care that you start working WITH your team and starting becoming more human and empathic?

Trust me, you’ll love it, guys πŸ™‚













Scroll Up