Team Building in Germany and the USA

How do strong teams play a role in a company? Or even in a country? My name is Nina Krishna and I am an American exchange student. I have been in Germany for 9 months and am currently living in Frankfurt. I am an intern at GREWP to learn about marketing and business in Germany and how it differs from the corporate world in the United States.

Why is Team Building Important?

Many corporate companies rely on strong, well oiled teams working together to produce a successful business. To ensure that their teams perform to the best of their abilities, corporations take steps both inside and outside the office, whether that be creating a strong office environment or by using team building activities to train, encourage trust, and boost collaboration between colleagues. Having a composed team can lead to better organization and increased efficiency. Supportive and positive offices encourage employees to approach colleagues and share ideas. In addition, professional team event agencies or coaches understand the characteristics required for a successful team and how to emphasize these themes to participants through activities.

Team Building in Germany

Corporate environments are extremely important to the success of a team whether that be in or outside the office. It is very common in Germany for employees to have around 30 days paid leave annually. In addition to this, the Bundestag (German government) also has a labor law that states that the average work week cannot exceed 48 hours. There is also the Mutterschutzgesetz law which protects new families, new parents cannot be fired within the first 6 weeks of the child being born. Secure and happy employees are more likely to engage and collaborate with peers. Having a positive office environment enhances the feeling of trust and communication. Moving outside of the office, many corporations try to get employees on their feet. By hiring team building event planners, teams can take part in activities such as paddle boarding, hiking, climbing, and wine or beer tasting. In these activities, teams face challenges, discuss ideas, try different approaches, and communicate with each other until success. Participants have the opportunity to work with each other and feel comfortable asking questions and sharing ideas. Doing this in a stress and competition free environment gives participants a positive association with team building and are more inclined to use it in the future.

Team Building in the USA

Within many American companies, annual events such as Christmas or Easter parties give colleagues a chance to interact in a more informal environment. One difference between the two countries, many American companies have seminars with smaller activities so team members can face challenges together. Walking through a problem and finding a solution step by step guides employees on how to respond correctly in situations. Analyzing possible reactions to situations and why or why not they would be successful helps individual members understand why certain skills are important for collaboration and why the whole team struggles when they are absent. Unlike Germany, outdoor expeditions within groups and between teams and bosses are not very popular in the USA.

My Experience With Cultural Differences

Why do Germany and the USA approach environment and team management differently? In my personal experience: culture. Germany, even Europe as a whole, focuses on community and family. Finding a balance between work, family, and relaxation time is highly emphasized. I have been in a few different working environments here in Germany and the overall work environment is more relaxed. In other words, things are slower paced.
Though I have not yet worked in the corporate world, I have family members who have worked from small startups to companies such as Honeywell, Verizon, AT&T, and Siemens. From asking about experiences to spending days at work with them, I noticed that the American working world is much more hyper and intense. Large corporations are filled with employees clocking in before dawn and out after dusk. There is a constant buzz of activity.

Corporate Values

These cultural differences are based on the businesses, even country’s, end goal. Germany emphasizes employee satisfaction and treatment resulting in a more sustainable and flexible work space and lifestyle. There is a level of tranquility. On the other hand, in the USA, many companies’ top priority is the best outcome. The sense of urgency and constant activity can potentially create a stressful and competitive environment. I find it extremely interesting that countries can maintain vastly different environments while still being at the top in terms of productivity and profit level. Neither business route is superior to the other, countries and companies have different priorities and cultural habits. Both countries have proven to be successful through different methods. Either way, teams in both countries must be able to communicate and trust each other in order to be as successful as Germany and the USA have proven to be.

Nina Krishna | Intern with GREWP