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Our foreign employee lacks initiative and willingness to integrate – What to do?

Recruiting foreign experts can be the right way for some companies to fill vacancies. In most cases, these employees need a lot of support and guidance in the initial phase to ensure that the integration process succeeds and that both companies and employees benefit from this path. Read my case report.

A company in the Rhineland with which I have been working for many years is recruiting a new employee with a high level of professional competence to support its technical team. The young man from Poland is to take on tasks independently at the site in Germany and relieve his superior in the medium term by representing him at internal and external meetings.

As the company has subsidiaries in Poland, the new employee will also help to improve communication with Polish colleagues.

Mr Fitzner had expected Mr Syzmanski to be proactive at least to the extent that he would ask questions of understanding in the team meetings. Instead, he now has the feeling that he does not show enough initiative to get to grips with the task and to integrate into the team faster and better. As a department manager, however, he has no time to explain everything to him separately.


What can a solution look like that enables the new employee to fulfil his role independently and proactively?

A first approach: language training

Mr. Fitzner recognizes that Mr. Szymanski needs significantly better German language skills in order to fulfill the tasks he expects. Together with Mr. Fitzner, I am organizing a language training course that my cooperation partner will start at short notice. Good German language skills are indispensable in this medium-sized company at its locations in Germany. – The language skills of Mr. Szymanski are indeed improving step by step, but Mr. Fitzner cannot see any significant improvement in the overall situation even after another two months.

However, language training alone is not enough.

The reason: Language acquisition is only one element among many within the integration process into the company.

Different cultures need to understand each other and come closer together.

In the course of the workshop, Mr. Szymanski gradually understands the expectations associated with his role. Conversely, the German team colleagues and Mr. Fitzner explain why Mr. Szymanski is often so cautious and does not take on the tasks as expected.

At the end of the workshop, all participants have defined concrete steps for themselves to accelerate Mr. Szymanski’s integration and support him in his role. This leads to a much more conscious and sensitive way of dealing with each other.

Promoting intercultural understanding and facilitating its application through coaching.

  • I then accompany Mr. Szymanski for six months with coaching so that he can contribute his experience and expertise more actively to the team in meetings and gradually relieve Mr. Fitzner – as planned. At the same time, I give impulses to the group in the context of team meetings, which encourage them to consciously use language, which enables their Polish colleague to participate on an equal basis. In concrete terms, this means adapting to a non-native-speaking team member in terms of speaking speed, choice of words and formulations.

  • Developing and securing specialists with coaching.

In this specific case, everyone has benefited from the coaching: the team, the superior Mr. Fitzner and the new colleague from Poland, Mr. Szymanski. Together they have developed integration solutions and transferred them into everyday work. As a result, Mr. Szymanski is now able to meet the expectations of his boss and his colleagues much better and is recognized as an equal member of the team with his expertise. In the course of the process, he has personally gained new self-confidence for his job at a German company.

The successful integration process is also a benefit for the company: Mr. Szymanski is an important specialist for the future development of the company.