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Mr Manager | 03 mei 2017

All HMSM students spend a five-month operational internship abroad in their second year of their study. Developing a Global Mind-set is one of the spearheads of our programme. Therefore, the students blog about their intercultural experiences. Take a minute to read the blog of Jeroen Bos about his experience in Berlin!

Mr Manager

"Entschuldigung Herr Manager, darf ich Ihnen etwas fragen?" Sounds pretty German, doesn't it? The first response you will get at Tropical Islands in Berlin is: "Du kannst jedermann Du-tzen, Jeroen".

Pretty surprising

You prepare your traineeship as well as possible; try to learn as many cultural rules as possible. Then you are at your destination and one of the most primary rules gets thrown overboard. It was pretty surprising to me. The first few days I kept saying "Sie" to all my colleagues. Every time the first response was: you can say “Du" to everyone, and then they start answering your question.


I was surprised by this total non-German behavior in the capital of Germany. I discussed it with my fellow trainee. Our conclusion was that it must be either something from the past that has become a habit, or a deliberate choice from management to create a particular work climate."

I asked my company mentor. She did know that the current General Manager, Jan Janssen, deliberately introduced this rule. When he started in November 2013, he wanted to change the narrow-mindedness that ruled the German meeting culture. Information was flowing slowly through large vertical lines of bureaucratic communication.

Jan Janssen wanted short lines of communication and openness in everything that concerned the company. Including financial information and questions about restructuring and expanding Tropical Islands. Stumbling points in educations, personnel or material should be quickly recognized and set to rights. Employees should be able to address questions and ideas directly to managers.

Dutch approach

The General Manager deliberately created the open work climate. He often lunches in the personnel restaurant and you can step into his office if you like. He chose a very Dutch approach, defined by flexibility and pragmatism. Information is still not as free flowing as he hoped it would, but everything got a lot better than before according to my company mentor.

It seems very strange to create a working climate that is so different from the nation's general company culture, but in a huge and very dynamic hospitality enterprise as Tropical Islands it seems necessary to make information go around as quickly as possible.

Some, especially older, employees can't really get used to the fact of addressing a manager by his first name. However I think it’s probably the future of leading companies. Because it is very common in the Netherlands to call a peer by their first name, I had no problems with that. Once you get used to it, it really works in creating a open-minded culture.

Read more intercultural experiences.

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