As we work more and more across borders we need to expand our awareness of culturally significant religious and national holidays.  I don’t just mean in terms of setting meeting times and project timelines; it also broadens our cultural knowledge and supports deeper insights into our cross border teams and customers.

As we embark on the Christmas season, it is important to remember that this is not a significant time for everyone.  While countries such as Brazil, Philippines, U.S, U.K and Australia celebrate Christmas some of the countries that don’t are Vietnam, Israel, Turkey, Qatar and Cambodia just to name a few. 

Ramadan, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Independence Days, Thanksgiving, there are so many significant events in our cultures that it isn’t possible to be across all of them, but, it does make a difference if we can understand some of the most recognised and widely celebrated. 

Acknowledgement, tolerance and flexibility need to be demonstrated by organisations and their teams in recognition of these events.  I often hear “it is unfair - they have too many public holidays, we can’t be expected to allow for every one of them – what are we supposed to do?” 

It is true there is an imbalance of public holidays across countries, some countries have almost 3 times the number of public holidays than others.  The reality is that holidays can and do impact project timelines and general working days, this is one of the challenges of working globally.  However, I think it is also important for us to bear in mind that some countries have more leave entitlement than others, some are prepared to work weekends and late nights while others aren’t and some countries have longer working weeks than others.  It isn’t the same for all, there are many different working conditions and structures that we need to adapt to and work within and across. It is different and sometimes it doesn't seem fair.

Forward planning, work schedule compromising, understanding and tolerance go a very long way to managing these holidays.  Remember next time that you take your leave or enjoy a public holiday that there are probably others within your team located in other regions who are continuing to work during this time. 

Next time you feel frustrated with a colleague taking another public holiday ask them about it.  This is a good way toward building deeper relationships and learning about other cultures. Not only may you gain some new insights into your colleague/s that you may never have known otherwise, it can also be a good opening to the conversation about how to manage workloads, logistics etc.  This is a great way to develop and maintain good collaborative relationships.  Most people enjoy talking about their upcoming holidays and celebrations. 

As myself and my team are about to embark on the Christmas holiday celebrations we thank you all for your support in 2015 and look forward to coming back in 2016 with a new and exciting newsletter and website!

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Best Wishes
Tom Verghese

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  Managing the Public Holiday Imbalance 







Originally a child psychiatrist, Rapaille is a fascinating speaker and author.  His first project in organisational cross-cultural marketing was about 30 years ago when he worked with Nestle as they were introducing instant coffee into the Japanese market.  He now works with many global organisations to help them address the real needs of consumers and create relevant, effective marketing practices and strategies.

This is a book that I have had for a long while and recently picked up again.  Rapaille writes in such an engaging manner and peppers the book with fascinating stories and examples that makes it a great read. 

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