Mothers: never stop fighting

This post is about Women who are also Mothers.

I don’t normally write about gender differences because it is such a risk subject that could be easily miss-understood. This time, though, I feel the need to say something that comes from my own experience and life, I want to speak in first person today. And I want to be an example for other Women too.

I am a working Mom, very passionate and dedicated to her Job. I did spend as long as possible in my last maternity leaves but when finished, I wanted to go back working as much as before, and it was the best thing I could have done. I do not regret the choice I have made to work full time. My job makes me feel realized as a person and I feel not only a mother, also a women. And I do believe if the mother is happy and satisfied, also children would be.

I want to be a model for both my son and my daughter. For my son who learns that it doesn’t have to be men working and maintaining the family, it can be also the other way around. And for my daughter, I want her to show that she can make it, it IS possible to succeed and taking decisions for the family and at the end it can work good for both.

I want to be economically independent and not having to ask someone else if I can spend his money and how. Of course in a family context, such decisions are made together, but the feeling of owning the decision is for me crucial.

Women can decide also how to live. Who said that only man can determinate the status of a family and decide, for example, where to live? Why have to be only man taking “carrier opportunities” and deciding to relocate if that can make them grown? Why shouldn’t this chance given to the women? Well, I am the living example that those things are also offered to mothers and that mother CAN take the challenge!

When we moved here in Germany I was 29 and I accepted an European responsibility. At that time my son was 1 year and a half and my husband quick his job in Italy and decided to stay home for a little while my son was introduced in the local Kindergarten. It was not easy of course and we had to find new balances, but it was possible.

After two years I had my second child, she is born here in Germany. Well, after my maternity leave it was already decided that my husband would have (again!) quick his actual job to taking care of the little one. This way works best for us, he enjoys a lot being with little ones and I feel totally at my place at work.

Of course I do miss my kids, especially when I travel. And I wish I could spend more time with them, especially more relaxed time. But at the end I feel much better this way that staying home full time with them.

I am not saying that every women should then work like I do, I know this is our way but it could be completely different for every family. Only I want to say, if you like to work and you think you can make it, believe in yourself and not let others put you down. There are the SAME chances for us mothers than for man fathers, we have to believe, stay strong, be prepared to be under-evaluated and under-estimated but keep fighting. Most of all, don’t ever give up, stay strong because we are the example of our children.

I am leaving today for my umpteenth business trip. My husband is home with the kids. They surely will miss me and I will miss them. But I feel strong and confident, and they feel and learn it.

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American Vs German working styles

After spending a week at my Headquarters in United States, I could really experience the difference between the working style of Americans and Germans (where I live). There is no better or worse, only different approaches to the Job-life in general, reflecting into personal Relations and way of dealing with Problems. From someone who is either German nor American.

Working style is the result of many different aspects coming from cultural background, society, school, history, family habits, and many other. I understand it is not really correct to generalize, neither to talk on stereotypes, but… hey…. some things are just so right! Please no offence – Peace & Love.

1. Although Americans start working really early (7.30/8.00) entering in the office is an explosion of energy. The first thing the people say is “Hey today is going to be a great day!” and they start making jokes about fun things they have done the day before. There is a General good mood and everyone is willing to chat a little before getting into the “serious things” of work.The general atmosphere is quite elated. Even too much sometimes….Is it really so fun and great to go to work?
German workers start really early too but seem not to be really happy about it. Normally, before they get their Kaffee, they don’t like to talk that much. The impression I have is that they need a slow start to get better concentrated into the job. Good thing is that a German is right there already on work as soon as entering in the office.

2. The concentration is not really an American thing. People are interrupted quite often and they don’t seem to be bothered. The higher-level a person is the more the interrupting from him/her is “acceptable”. Sometimes, though, concentration is needed, especially in the process of creating or when working with numbers. Of course that lends to a much higher probability of mistaking. In opposite German workers are the most concentrated people in earth, they have a really high ability to stay focus for long time and usually when they start something, do not stop until it’s done. That capability help them avoid to making mistakes and stay focus on the results. Mistakes from German outputs are much less than from any other country (at least from my experience). Of course if you Interrupt a German working….Mmmmm…You don’t want to do that!

3. Communication is where the differences is most visible. Americans over communicate and make not filter. Usually they say what they have in mind directly, without thinking much and with no elaboration of the thoughts. This is also due to the English language, that makes communication so direct. German have the incredible capability to overly think before saying anything, the more educated they are the more they evaluate the though before saying it! It’s probably due to the German language that forces you to think of the complete sentence before saying (putting the verb at the end). They are also well though to do so in School, I see how hard it is for my Son to learn the German structure. Surely German have a natural way of reflecting over things that give them a natural wiseness when speaking and explaining something. A conversation with a German is always really focused and Goal oriented.

4. Pretty good FASTER Done is better than perfectly LATE Done! Every time I try to make something new, from the Event organisation to a new campaign, I start my battle! The German way is absolute the best structured, most precise and accurate in the world. A typical German person does actually consider ALL eventualities and possibilities, evaluates them and act accordingly making sure that what has been released is completely and absolutely verified. Well, that is great! But it is also time consuming, especially when it involves other people and they might be away 2 weeks on holiday…. Americans, to me, seem not to test or verify too much, just pushing for releasing always something newer and hotter. Sometimes too soon and causing more Problems than benefits. Again, can we have a Middle Way?

5. Patience is a wonderful German quality. Honestly, I really appreciate the ability of the German people to be able to wait and do not expect things done immediately right the way. When my German Boss or people from the German Team ask me to do something, timing is really always reasonable. That is also a sign of trust and respect on the other person. Of course, coming back to the point 4, it has to be done at some point and not taking forever!

The best working style would be probably something in between the two German and American – someone being able to concentrate, be precise and accurate like a German and able to communicate and empower like an American.

My two cents on working Style – I know too generic and stereotyped 🙂

Delegating, why is it so difficult?

I find this a really interesting question, very much related to self time management and jobs organisation. Almost always when I see someone crazy overloaded and hysterical for the pressure of things to do, It’s likely a person not able to delegate!

Who does not delegate it more a problem than a resource for companies, mostly because they are usually self-centric and tent to take more that what they can handle. Such behavior is not done on purpose, these People truly believe that their way is the best way to do things, especially since in this way surely things will be done. This post is not to judge who does it, because I understand why they do it. Working in a group is not easy, it gets even harder when the group is “virtual” across countries and continents, the tendency to do it all to make sure it’s done is big. But at the end not-delegating people bring more disadvantages than strengths to firms.

They like to be at center of everything and to be involved in as much as possible – to the extend that he or she has to decide even the smallest details. That obviously take time away from what they should actually be doing, consequently they are known as a late responding or worse people who forget things.

What about holidays? Another flaw is that if you don’t delegate to anyone, when you are not there (holidays, illness, private issues), the job surely stops. Processes that they should manage stop and their results with it. What about is some unforeseen come and they are not able to respond in time to customers? Or the system they manage breaks? Or whatever other tragedy happens? At the end to those people the company can not rely on and they will not be assigned to important projects.

No more complaining. I personally think that in many cases, people that complain a lot are the ones that do not delegate enough (or do not at all!). In many cases I hear associates saying they have too much to do but, the same people usually keep it all in their hands, even when a help is offered.

Relations are the key. So putting myself on the head of an organisation, I would never trust someone self centric, what if she/he leaves? Senior manager always pay attention that their co-worker learn to delegate and are able to work in a group.That’s why is fundamental to create the relation with co-workers. Asking someone to help/support me with my task create surely a relation with that person, and we know creating relations is critical in work eviroment

Trust more, please. Delegeting means also trusting the person you are asking to. Sometimes you have to trust without the security that your trust will be then paid, but it’s always worth trying it. Trusting someone is the biggest respect sign you can Show. So when you find someone that (you think) you can rely on, he/she is available to help and you can trust, here you go you can start delegating. Delegation means before all, explaining. Take some time, with patience, and sit/call with that person explaining exactly what you need, providing as much information as possible. Make things clear and answer all questions.

Cut big process in simple pieces. Of course some job requires more than other, better, some jobs requires more practical and repetitive operations, and those of course are time consuming and in many cases, are the biggest cause of complaining. As much as possible, delegate what can be, and cut those tasks in pieces that can be done also by different co-workers.

No avoiding. Do not avoid that fact that you are asking for help and you are delegating your job. At the end the results will be good for both of you and your colleagues, but be always clear. Of course next time, they might ask you, and you own them.

Not being overloaded gives you the possibility to think straightforwardly, strategically and making long time decisions. You can do that knowing that what you decide to do, it surely will be done because you know how to manage your time and there are no risk that what is important will be lost in the middle of too many things.

Own your job, you can never fail

Recently I entered in many discussions regarding how to deal with responsibilities at work and why it is really important that we take responsibilities in order to own our job.

Take risks! I understood that no matter what job you do, it is implicitly required that you take some risks. Companies know you might fail taking them, but you should do it anyway. Organisations are prepared to manage our fails, because not only it is worth but not to try cost even more. It might be times when what we think is right and needed, and in reality it is not. But surely those are the minority. Most of the times, what we do is the key to move forward and to create value for our team. And that is exactly our goal.

Just executing is not enough: you do your job, without taking any initiatives, you do not simply do enough. We, that we have the luxury not to work in assembly lines or in mines, (doing the same job over and over) are blessed with a nice and safe job, we are even more forced to create added value for our companies. Nowadays we have much more freedom and resources, we have everything basically free on google, we can reach information and ask experts via emails, sometimes we even have too much information (by the way, information understanding is also another crucial point). That’s why getting information, opening our curiosity and increasing our level of knowledge is just the minimum in our everyday working life.

Always be curious: In this such full of information environment, it is mandatory that we use all of these tools to create worth for the companies that we are working for. Just executing is not enough. There are robots and automatisms that can do that. We as professional should always remember that our job is to think what can we do to better help our organisation, no matter what field, if logistic, supply chain, sales or marketing, if we have an idea how to improve things, we should always broad it up. I even say, we are paid to have such ideas! If we don’t, than there is a problem. In my job, I spend at least 20% of my time searching events that might be interesting for my business line, or learning graphic tools that could help me to work better, looking for tips on how to make good presentations, discovering market research, exploring new possible targets and learning what my competitors are doing. I use Social Media to sniff what are the new trends in marketing and how I can improve my brand awareness in all channels possible.

Asking is the key: Anything I see think can bring value to my work, I bring it up and share with my co-workers. I propose new ideas, I ask to invest in what I think brings value to my company. People are too afraid to ask, but why? A questions can have two answer yes or not. So when I think there is something my company should invest on, I go for it, ask and, if needed, fight for it.

Investing means giving trust. Of course, when I suggest we should do something it involves an investment, meaning asking my company to trust me spending money. That is not an easy call. It is hard to give trust but it is also hard to ask, and many times people are afraid to speak up because do not want to make such questions. It is always a pain, but it is crucial but the future of organisations.

Fight for it. All of this to say that we have to act proactively. Giving ideas, providing new ways of doing things, finding new tools or chasing events, anything can help and surely does not damage the company. And, when you find something interesting, ask and fight for it. If a no is the first answer, it does not mean it will be the final. That’s why, if you are sure about something, that is your job to fight our battle for it. If we don’t, someone will do it instead of us.

Relational Intelligence, the most important skill at work

Relational Intelligence, this is what I need at work. Ok, not only that, but the more I understand how professional relations work and the more I realize how important they are.

I’ve been learning in the past 10 years of my working experience that being able to relate with colleauges and superios or knowing how to act within an organisation is way more important than what you actually do at your work.
Let me me explain, of course I have to do my job at best and even better but what is the point of having it all perfectly made if I am not able to communicate it properly and nobody else would benefit from it? Or I wonder, how can I expect that my co-workers are collaborative if I am not with them? Some people in work do not understand that relations are the key to work, without them we are no-one.

For example if I want to introduce a new project idea and instead of waiting an appropriate moment during a meeting (that maybe I set myself to specifically talk about it), I pretend to talking about it rushing during a koffee break in a corridor, without even having enough information about it and, most important, without the complete attention from my audience. Can could I expect people to listen to me? Or even to be interested? That is not a good time to talk about!

Another good example is when you are attending an event and all colleagues sleep at the same hotel. At breakfast time, I see my boss talking with other managers at the same level, then I would never go there and ask to sit together with them, unless I know 100% I am welcome or I am invited to do so. Instead I would sit, maybe alone, in another table. Sometimes breakfasts are the only moment that you can spend alone with your superiors (who in many cases come from another country or continent) and I know you don’t need someone else stepping in. As I would not want that is happens if it was my turn to sit at that table.

During conference call there is always someone that do not understand that a conference time is not a good time to go in details in a problems and making all the other participants waiting for you to finish your “private” (working speaking) conversation, when you could have been done it directly calling that person on the phone. Conference calls are moments where I say something that could interest everyone listening and if I have a thing direct only to one, I would take it off line, stop.
The only exception, if someone want to screw publically the person he is addressing to. Often, who does that, it does it on purpose. From my experience, this technic never works because other listeners would not understand what is going on and would feel bad for the person attacked. Normally and luckily in such situations, senior managers step in and close it suggesting to take it off line. So, my suggestion is, do it directly off line, better on person if possible. Never screw people on conference, please.

During a meeting, it’s always best not interrupt who is speaking, especially if he/she is senior (in the company or as a role) than you. I tend to see this behavior changing a lot depending on countries, some cultures are more talkative and do not bother if interrupted, but the majority tend to respect other people speeches, so don’t burn them.
As said, I learnt that interrupting is never a good thing and I try not to do it. Of course my nature as Italian sometimes is stronger and when I am in a dual conversation and I am really passionate about something, my mouth just can’t stop and I struggle not to say what I always want to say. Thanks God, as I’ve already written in older post, speaking in English (or German) force me to stop and wait more. I know, I still have to improve this (: