If you are a Global Mobility Manager and hoping for a successful transfer to Sweden, it’s good to have some solutions up your sleeve for common assimilation and inclusion challenges.
There are a lot of unspoken norms in any country, and what makes it even more difficult in Sweden is that while people pay attention, no one will tell the new person on the team what is expected.
Instead you hear people mutter;
“How hard can it be to be to arrive on time?”
“Why doesn’t she show up to meetings?”
“ He is here, yet he hasn’t responded to my email”
Small issues like this can hinder an international hire who otherwise has great potential to achieve wonderful things.
So how can you as HR help the new hire to assimilate to both the local culture and the company culture?
We see many companies that spend significant resources to help integrate new hires. Some have boot camps, others offer mentors in the beginning, often there’s on the job training and shadowing of a senior colleague. From a relocation perspective, we have been known to ask HR to hold off on the boot camp until the transferees have moved and found a place to live. The worrying about practical matters and the wish to perform at a high level can be too much at one time.
Each individual, of course, has a different set of needs and what works for one person won’t work for another. We have seen more than one frustrated Global Mobility Manager starting to question the recruitment process and thinking the wrong person has been hired. This may be true and the turnover of new staff can be high as both parties are on a trial period to see if they can create magic together.
In a perfect world, the new hire is not only a talent, but also has a great attitude at work. The ideal would be: no need for on the job training, and once they have been shown the coffee machine and introduced to some colleagues, the new hire will start producing amazing results. This is rarely the case though, and while on the job training is necessary, in almost all cases potential success lies in understanding what is expected from the Swedish managers.
What does your expat need to know?
Explain the essence of punctuality.
Punctuality is extremely important to Swedes and most other nationalities. Yes, even the Germans are more relaxed than the Swedes and most importantly don’t take it personally if someone is a few minutes late. For a new expat hire in Sweden, it is important to know how Swedes feel about punctuality BEFORE they are LATE.
Time management is another area where Swedes are very strict compared to most others. Lateness isn’t appreciated and management is very attentive to the meeting of deadlines. Swedes rarely micromanage and rely on the word of the colleagues. Therefore it often comes as a surprise if a new hire didn’t understand what to do and is used to a different management style where clear instructions and follow up is norm. The endless meetings are meant to address any questions, but it isn’t natural for everyone to bring up problems in that forum.
Swedes respond quickly to emails.
When an email is left unanswered it irks the Swede. This can be perceived as a sign that the colleague is nonchalant or even worse it could be taken personally. The sender has to keep track of responses, which is tiresome and actions and planning for non-responses must be in place. It is likely the new hire has read the email and believed it is for information only.
Clear action points and expectations help a new hire to perform at a higher level.
While the employer is responsible to make this work, it shouldn’t be forgotten that the employee has a big play in the success of the assignment as well. It is good news that in an expat survey we have had running for about two years, the third most important thing for expats is to be successful in their job. It comes way before being curious about fun and local nightlife. Both parties are committed to making the new partnership a success.
We believe that success comes from knowledge of Sweden and Swedish values in addition to the individual’s effort. If you have a new hire arriving in Sweden soon or in the last several months, they may get great benefit from our complimentary online program that will help them to understand the Swedish work environment and provide lots of inspirational tips to excel in their new job. You can invite them to sign up with this link.
If you’re planning to bring foreign talent to Sweden, navigating an unfamiliar culture and immigration process can slow you down. Thankfully, Nimmersion’s Immigration Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden is here to help. Let’s get your new talent down to business!
If you are still working on the immigration logistics for your transferee, feel free to sign up for a free phone consultation with one of our immigration specialists.