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In our Diversity@NORMA series, we highlight the diversity of employees who work at NORMA Group. In 2022, the series focuses on the diverse cultures of NORMA Group employees. Colleagues from different departments and different countries talk about their culture, how it influences their approach to work and how intercultural exchange takes place at NORMA Group.
Milos Saravolac works as an HR Generalist at the NORMA Group site in Serbia. As part of a one-year assignment, he is working in the HR department of the German site in Maintal. In the interview, he talks about the differences and similarities between Serbian and German culture and explains why intercultural exchange offers added value for any company.
Milos, how do the Serbian and German cultures influence your working style?
To be honest, I only realized how much Serbian culture has shaped me and influenced my working style now that I have been living and working in Germany for a few months. In Serbia, people are very open and friendly. In Germany, people put a lot of emphasis on structure and accuracy. I have managed to integrate both cultures into my way of working. It is important to always be open to new things.
Can you give an example?
I have been in Germany for two months now. I noticed quite quickly that my colleagues eat much less for lunch, often just a sandwich or a salad, and often bring something from home. In Serbia, on the other hand, we eat very extensively during our lunch break. That was quite an adjustment for me.
I also had to get used to the German deposit system. I didn’t know that you could return glass and plastic bottles to the supermarket and get money for them. Fortunately, I have very nice, humorous and helpful colleagues who introduced me to these cultural peculiarities.
During my stay, I have learned that Germans are often a bit more reserved, they just need a bit more time to thaw out. Understanding these cultural differences is, I think, especially important in HR departments.
How exactly do you mean that?
In HR, intercultural exchange plays a very important role, especially in recruiting. When I talk to applicants from different parts of the world, it is always important to understand their cultural background. They have verity motives that drive them and behave differently professionally. For example, candidates from Asia are often a bit more reserved at the beginning. However, if I know this in advance, I can deal with it in the best possible way.
What influence do cultural factors have on the way you work with your colleagues?
Intercultural exchange is one of the most important aspects that NORMA Group offers its employees. When we work on and implement projects with colleagues from different parts of the world, we are always better together than alone. If we look at the challenges of everyday work or a specific project from different cultural perspectives, we will always find new possible solutions. We should live and promote this cultural exchange every day. Because diversity makes us stronger and better.