The German mentality

Generally speaking, Germans are considered to be well-organized people who love rules and prohibitions and are punctual, hard-working, disciplined, reliable, but also comparatively humorless.

In fact, many Germans strive to do everything thoroughly, well and precisely. That costs time – and flexibility. In Germany, the sense of order is cultivated more than in many other countries. This quickly degenerates into bureaucracy, which is not always helpful. To be productive despite this, many Germans like to set themselves goals, even daily milestones. That way, they achieve their results in an efficient manner. Good performance drives many Germans.

Employees may take more liberties and make intensive use of flexible working time models, but they are on task and highly committed during their work. Foreign observers occasionally attest to the fact that they have little sense of fun during working hours. Apparently, they separate work and private life more consistently than employees of other nations. Germans attach great importance to maintaining their private sphere. Friendships between colleagues, in which private matters are also exchanged, can develop, but they take time.

This output efficiency is also reflected in communication. Germans maintain very direct communication. They engage in little or no small talk, but like to get to the heart of the matter quickly. With people from other nations, who are used to creating a harmonious conversational atmosphere first, Germans can sometimes get into trouble. Communication in Germany is “straightforward” with little diplomatic finesse. The advantage is that you always know where you stand. However, people from other cultures, where gentler communication with hints “between the lines” is common, find it difficult to cope with this.

When dealing with business partners, Germans can usually be relied upon. However, one should know that Germans mean exactly what they say. There is hardly any room for an “about” in communication with Germans. As far as possible, Germans quantify and schedule everything.

This focus on facts is also reflected in the fact that many Germans are more easily convinced by facts and figures than by emotions and storytelling. Thus, many Germans are hindering themselves when it comes to visionary thinking. Therefore, German-led companies tend to grow organically and through conservative financing rather than through visionary action, as can be observed more frequently in the U.S., for example. Germans are considered realistic and even somewhat risk-averse. Despite a pronounced openness to the world, the unknown tends to frighten them rather than arouse their curiosity. This is why they generally have more difficulty with new business models and product innovations than people of other origins.

Many Germans are uncomfortable with a trial-and-error approach, as found in the USA and Southeast Asia. They prefer to implement well thought-out concepts and do everything they can to adhere to and maintain established processes, even if they are not optimal. This gives some German companies a certain inertia and makes change difficult.

Cooperation between Germans tends to be informal. In teams, members often dote on each other very quickly, while remaining professional. Colleagues often even know relatively little about each other. But that doesn’t mean that Germans are less in need of harmony than people from other countries. They just don’t show it that way. They behave cooler. The fact that German companies value employees from different cultures does not change this.

In many cases, German managers do not work at a great distance from their employees. This supports agile leadership. Young employees are involved in decisions at a comparatively early stage in Germany and thus learn quickly. Many German managers appreciate it when their employees contribute their opinions and even criticism. This is not the case in many other countries.

However, results are expected by German superiors almost as a matter of course, but are not necessarily explicitly recognized.


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