Our Kenyan colleagues visiting the Head Quarters in NL. Samantha and Joran share their experience.Back
From September 5 to 13, Samantha, Teresiah, Hellen, and Trizah came over to our Dutch office from Kenya. The goal? To get all eyes within upMention pointed in the same direction, and of course to strengthen the bond internally. After all, it's not anything, having two offices thousands of miles apart serve the same purpose. It takes vision, energy, and effort. By attending intensive training sessions, hanging out with each other a lot, and also doing fun activities, we have focused on the goal.
How did Samantha, Scrum Master and SEO specialist, experience this week and a half?
Expectations versus reality
In the first weeks of working at upMention, you read in (book name ....) about the cultural differences between the Netherlands and Kenya or the difference between hot and cold cultures. Because of this, my perception of the Netherlands and the Dutch people was cold and distant. My first face-to-face meetings with my colleagues made me forget this perception immediately. I or rather we received a tremendously warm welcome and immediately felt at home. I think the difference is more in the hospitality towards strangers in a safe environment...
What do you take home with you after a week and a half?
Structure. The Dutch are hugely structured compared to people in Kenya. I have now seen with my own eyes how efficiently people work here. Of course, we learned this by applying the upMention working method in our daily work. But during our visit to the Netherlands, I saw it everywhere. I do think that a mix of our cultures is good. I can tell the Dutch to have a little more fun in between the serious work. Together we make the perfect mix!
Did the meeting bring you closer together?
Absolutely. Within my own team, I got a much better connection with Julan, the Service Owner of our team. Lucien has already visited Kenya a few months back, so it was really nice to see him again. For the rest of the team, I have regular online contact, but not as intense as within my team. Huge fun to be with them in real life, you get a much better idea of the person behind the screen.
What experience do you share with colleagues in Kenya?
In the Netherlands, colleagues as a team are very focused on the common goal. In Kenya, as individuals, we do have it in mind but live it to a lesser extent. As a team, we move mountains and I want to convey that to them.
But now from the other side, how did Joran, SEO & SEA specialist experience the visit of his Kenyan colleagues?
What were your expectations?
I was very much looking forward to it. The week before their arrival I was still on vacation but was already looking forward to my work week because of their planned visit. And the visit positively surprised me. In the flesh, the colleagues are even (!) nicer than in the contact - which we have daily - through Teams. The visit was also a rollercoaster of emotions with the training, and deep and light conversations.
Did you learn anything from your Kenyan colleagues?
Definitely. First of all, the directness that we Dutch see or experience as normal. Here I learned that you can be direct, in a soft way. I think that we Dutch - with the right intentions - can sometimes come across as offensive to people from another culture. The way in between is important. Because our directness also brings a lot of good.
What will you apply in your daily work?
When a new relationship or client arrives, I want to carry the Kenyan team members directly forward within my team and involve them in the entire process. Provided there is room for it within the project. I see many advantages in this; it keeps the lines of communication short. Win-win!
In short. The visit has brought and loosened up a lot among our colleagues. We came closer together, learned a lot, and know what we are going to focus on together. On to the next one!