Germans see knowledge as the team’s primary capital. They are keen to protect and expand their knowledge base. This makes them particularly sensitive to how and with whom that capital is shared.
In American teams information is the lifeblood of communication. Any breakdown in information flow means a breakdown in communication. And that quickly becomes a threat to the team’s overall success.
In the German context careless handling of information can lead to a serious reprimand. For this reason, Germans are restrictive in their information distribution, guarding very closely who sends what information, to whom and for what purpose. From their point of view Americans colleagues are often careless.
Information should flow to anyone in the organization who needs it in order to get the job done. Those who do not take the initiative to share information are labeled information hoarders. And Americans view that as a serious transgression of fair-play within a team, leading to serious sanctions.
Advice to Germans
Get a sense for how your American colleague maintain information flow: what information, shared among which colleagues, why, when and in what form. Then explain to them which information, from your point of view, needs to be handled carefully. Help them to understand your logic.
Advice to Americans
Do the same. Get a sense for how your German colleague maintain information flow: what kinds of information, shared among whom, for what purpose, when and how. Then explain to them which information, from your perspective, absolutely must flow smoothly and constantly. Help them to understand your logic.