Mistrust, a Virus

Follow up in Germany is a sign of mistrust, of doubt in one’s reliability, in that person’s ability to deliver what they have promised. For Germans typically only commit if they are close to absolutely certain that they can execute.

Germans are very sensitive about mistrust, and do not deal with it well. A fictitious example: Small team. The members have their individual tasks, but need to collaborate at certain points. They work well together. The team lead can pay less and less attention to them. A new team member, though, begins to take advantage of the lead’s hands-off management style by looking for personal advantage.

The other team members become a bit unsettled. A few others also begin to think only of themselves. Mistrust creeps into the team, the points of contact become strained, collaboration more difficult. Their boss sees the signs and reacts by scheduling team meetings more frequently, checking on each team member’s work. Then come the emails and phone calls going into more detail.

The increased follow up strains relations. Several of the team members begin to look for alternative jobs within the company. A top performer is gone within a month. Others have sent out their resumés. Follow up can lead to mistrust, a virus with potentially deadly results.