German Approach

Germans avoid making hasty decisions at all costs. A German manager is expected to work through the mediation process carefully. An optimal resolution which demands time, is better than a suboptimal resolution arrived at quickly.


American Approach

Americans become impatient if too much time is required to resolve a conflict. Festering conflicts are disruptive for any team. A suboptimal, but prompt resolution, is often better than an optimal, but late one.


German View

For Germans quick decisions are rarely good decisions. If poorly resolved, the conflict resurfaces, demanding a repeat of the resolution process. Americans all too often address the symptoms, not the illness.

American View

The negative effect of a festering internal conflict on a team’s internal cohesion, and thus performance, is almost always costlier than the benefits of a perfect resolution. Maintaing forward movement has priority.

Advice to Germans

If you lead an American team, move much faster than you normally would. The longer the conflict festers, the sooner your American team will question your leadership capability. If you need time, nonetheless, explain to the team why. Don‘t leave them in the dark.

If you have an American boss be prepared for a decision you might like or not like, but which either way will come much sooner than you think. 

Advice to Americans

If you lead Germans, and a conflict has been escalated up to you, do thorough due diligence. That takes time. Don‘t rush it. In the German context acting before thinking or „shooting first, then asking questions“ – is a criticism which goes to the heart of your reputation.

If the issue has finally caught the attention of your German manager, alter your internal clock. The wheels of justice in Germany move slowly. Remember, a German working in the U.S. – whether colleague or boss – is still German. Like snails and turtles, we drag our home with us wherever we go.