Sekisui Kasei - Akteos
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Sekisui Kasei

Intercultural understanding leads to a calmer atmosphere and better-oiled processes

Akteos’ tailor-made ‘Working together with the Japanese’ training course has brought Sekisui Kasei “a calmer atmosphere, more understanding and better cooperation”.

Sector

The Japanese company operates in 20 countries worldwide and specialises in the production of special polystyrene packaging for the food, cosmetics and automotive industries.

The subsidiary in Almelo produces packaging for, among others, the automotive industry. The office in Almelo employs approximately 20 people from diverse cultures. Dutch natives work there alongside several Japanese colleagues, but there are also employees whose roots lie in various European cultures, such as Germany, the Ukraine and Spain.

Motivation

Britt Hoekstra, Management Assistant: “The reason for following a customised training programme was a lack of cultural awareness within the organisation, a lack of connection with and knowledge of other people’ s cultures, which affected communication with colleagues from other cultures. The aim of the training course was to develop more understanding between the cultures and to prevent misunderstandings arising from intercultural differences. The trainees consisted of the management and office staff of the company.

Intercultural communication

The misunderstandings mainly occurred during the execution and coordination of daily tasks. Scheduling appointments, sharing (management) reports and communications. How do you tackle these issues more effectively in practice? This was the question Sekisui Kasei was wrestling with. An example: “When the Dutch ask a question, we expect a quick answer like ‘yes, no or OK’. Our Japanese colleagues are much more indirect in their answers, which makes it difficult for Dutch colleagues to know what’s happening or who is doing what. On the other hand, our Japanese colleagues tend to work according to fixed patterns and processes. The Dutch are much more out-of-the-box and contribute ideas and opinions, especially in the type of organisation we have. Even though we are certainly open to different cultures, this has still led to various adjustment problems. The language was not the problem here. Everyone speaks perfect English.”

Method

Hoekstra: “We discovered Akteos through a LinkedIn message. And we have had a very positive experience. Akteos handled the process very carefully. After an intake interview we quickly devised an action plan with the trainer. We started with an individual analysis: a questionnaire to map work and communication styles: the NOMAD Culture Profiler. That gave us a lot of insight into our own culture, and the other person’s.

With Akteos’ help, we, the management, made the conscious decision to first put together a ‘Dutch Awareness’ training course with a Dutch trainer. This training was for all employees and gave an insight into Dutch manners and business culture. However, for the Japanese in particular, it also served as a trigger. A way to break the ice. In this way, we introduced the concept of ‘culture’ and made it a topic for discussion. The intention was to encourage all cultures within Sekisui Kasei Europe to be more open to cultural issues. This workshop was followed by the two-day ‘Working together with the Japanese’ training programme.”

Result

The training has led to more understanding, a calmer atmosphere and better cooperation between the Dutch and Japanese colleagues. “We now better understand how processes go, and why. Some things just go the way they go. I can resign myself more easily to that now and accept it. The training has given many colleagues insights, created enthusiasm and also opened doors. It was quite a challenge to get everyone on board and keep them connected. But in the end, we succeeded.”

The trainer, Azumi, was really great. She could also help with very personal issues encountered in intercultural communication. She is very good at listening, understanding and giving feedback and tips from personal experience. She comes from Japan herself, which helps enormously. That was very valuable for me and for others too.

“We can certainly recommend this course of training with Akteos to other companies. Absolutely! It has really had a positive impact on us, and created more understanding and a calmer atmosphere. That generates a lot of positive energy. We are considering implementing a similar process on the production floor.”


Akteos – customised courses

Customer: Sekisui Kasei, Almelo

Industry: packaging industry

Size: 20 employees

Training: working with the Japanese

Goal: Solve intercultural misunderstandings

Result: calmer atmosphere, more understanding and better intercultural cooperation

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