Loc Nguyen - Engineering life in Germany
"Straightforward is how I describe the life here. They'll come at you with no sugarcoating."
I've worked in System Architecture in Vietnam for nearly 10 years, from enterprises to banking and startups. I moved to Germany in the middle of 2019 and embarked on a new chapter. It was a culture shock for working style, I have to admit. Back in Vietnam, pings and small talks during work is normalized. We think those are real-time updates or feedback on the work, which doesn't interrupt much on people's working zone.
So I did the same thing in Germany. In the performance review, they told me that was very annoying. "We somehow feel disrespected," said them.
"Oh jeez, thank you for letting me know that," I answered. "That's what we do in Vietnam, to keep the team posted"
Privacy on working time is considered as the top priority here. Everyone has their daily plans. It's our job to take that seriously. If we have something in need, they'd prefer a booking in advance. That also prevents us from interrupting their working pace. People don't talk about work after 4 PM. They'll be likely to arrange the workload, planning for tomorrow, and enjoy the rest of the day in sunlight. They crave that yellow heat. They value individual points of view in the workplace. Retrospective meetings are meant to locate the issue and seek resolution. The fact that you have nothing to contribute in terms of enhancement is also something to concern. We don't make the decision just because a lot of people vote for it. It takes consensus and convincement.
German does everything with conscientiousness. Once something is released, it must reach the top-notch level. It's a critical mindset which I believe we all need to adopt. People tend to do many things at once, yet none of them actually come out perfectly. They're very thoughtful when it comes to leadership. Leaders do care about employee's life outside of work. They pay real attention to work-life balance.
The labor cost in Germany is pretty high, so I basically do everything myself. Engineer, electrical mechanic, pipe mechanic, chef, car-washer, and hairdresser as well. See this haircut? Been mastering this since 2019.