Although my recent training at DMAN (Deutsche Management Akademie Niedersachsen – German Management Academy of Lower Saxony) in Celle  had been quite exhausting, I drove home in good spirits. Here’s what “Fit for Partnership with Germany”  is about.

On behalf of this academy, I was asked to be the coach for one of their training programmes. It is called “Fit for Partnership with Germany”. This time, I have been in charge of a group of managers from India.

The programme

The programme “Partnership with Germany” was originally initiated as a bilateral programme by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie – BMWi) in 1997. DMAN actively participates in the „Manager Training Programme“ (Managerfortbildungsprogramm – MP). Managers from Asia, Eastern Europe, North Africa and Latin America are supported by BMWi. The German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH – GIZ) is responsible for the general management of this programme. Meanwhile, 19 partner countries are now part of this programme.

On the road to Mumbai in my mind

Again, all members of my group invited me to visit them at home – this time in Mumbai! On my way back home on the train, I already painted my journey to India with the brightest colours in my mind. The Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple became vividly visible before my inner eye.

However, I was still comparing prices for flights to India and looking up relevant travelling information. But reality again hit me faster than I expected. The phone call of a co-worker reminded me that a concept still required some modification. No doubt, I will have to put my travel plans on ice for the time being – but I can dream, can’t I? – and now back to the qualification programme:

My job to do according to DMAN

„Present yourself and your company in front of a potential German business partner…“ This is one of the tasks to be solved by my trainees from Mexico, India, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, or from China – and I help them to do so. I support them to optimise their presentation with regard to German business partners and organisations. Training sessions are either held in English or in the respective national language with the support of an interpreter. The managers will get some tips and exchange information and experiences. For example on how to present their company in order to be taken into serious account by a potential German business partner.

Some cultural differences

Initially, my trainees frequently enter the DMAN programme with overloaded and insufficiently mapped-out presentations.  Their expectations are huge. But they will often be very disappointed, because German managers rather like to get at once to the point by means of a direct, well-aimed communication. This is usually very different in my trainees‘ home countries. 

The training contents

During my training sessions, all trainees will get a well-structured and precisely focused feedback to their presentation within the German business sphere. We most intensively work on the definition of absolutely clear aims of communication. To achieve this, I use the „magic triangle of communication”.

In order to reach their German business partner in a better way, the trainees learnt to carry out a good research in advance to be able to empathise with their partner. Questions like „what keeps him/her up at night?“ are discussed and appropriate advice will be given on the basis of actual cases.

For example, during her research, a trainee of mine had found out that her business contact was actually not that „senior“ than she initially had thought. Thus, she immediately had an idea how to adapt her presentation to this circumstance. Another trainee discovered that he might be able to generate nearly a quarter of the annual turnover of his potential business partner with his project. This was an extremely relevant piece of information concerning his negotiations.

The pyramid principle by Barbara Minto

In order to ensure a better structure of the subject and of its content, I preferably introduce my trainees to the pyramid principle by Barbara Minto. This is a simple tool to create structures. Many of my trainees are very eager to soak that in. We then get back to it during the live presentations of the plenary session in the afternoon. This presentation process is more often than not extremely interesting: Who behaves how during the presentation? Both verbal and non-verbal communication are key in this situation. The trainees will receive extensive feedback on which impression they have made, if they were properly audible, or if they possibly transmitted unintentional „messages“ as well.

Live presentations to be recorded on video

The highlight of excitement, however, takes place in the afternoon: The video camera is waiting for the trainees. This is quite like any other video training. Although being nervous, all trainees bravely show what they have optimized – and they really have fun! Despite a certain initial reserve, they are usually very proud of their achievements. And they feel much better prepared for their next meeting with German business partners. That’s how “Partnership with Germany“ works!

India, here I come!

Even if I have to put my planned trip to India on ice, I will try to stay in touch with the help of Linkedin & Co.. I enjoy networking with all my trainees very much and I get much fun out of the intercultural exchange with them, and it considerably expands my horizons, too. I am really looking forward to my next group of trainees in April. They come from Ukraine.

Best regards – also to India,

Renke Ulonska

Photo: private