Different perspectives - An internship at LS Retail

Written by LS Retail | 03 November 2014

    

Wednesday March 19th 2014 an email from Slovenia was sent to the info email address at LS Retail and forwarded to the HR manager the following day. A new email in the inbox is nothing new within the company but this one had a special tone to it. Replied to on Monday March 24th with a positive feedback. This is how we got to know Anja Bocevska, a student at the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Anja was searching for an internship during 6 weeks in July and August. Four months later she showed up at the headquarters and started working as an intern, taking part in various projects within HR and managed them brilliantly, living the values of the company every day by showing empowerment, innovation and integrity in all tasks handed to her. Coming from another cultural background, these six weeks were enlightening for both Anja and the employees she worked closely with during her internship. We asked Anja to give us some insight into her perspective and this is what she wrote. “After wrapping up my 6 week internship at LS Retail, it’s certainly hard to summarize everything I’ve been lucky enough to experience over the short period I was there. When addressing to issues like cultural characteristics, work environment and seeing things from a bit different cultural perspective, some moments really stick out.”

Communication

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“Icelandic business culture follows low power distance and flat hierarchy, meaning that communication between employees is open, informal and direct. All employees address each other by their first names and most decisions are discussed in a way where everyone has an equal say. This relaxed atmosphere makes it easier to focus on tasks and responsibilities instead of titles. There is an environment of open, understanding and responsive communication between coworkers at all levels. Decision making is generally a collaborative process, as debate is often initiated to ensure that everyone has agreed. From my perspective this is crucial to the motivation and encouragement.”

 

Cooperation & Teamwork

“There is a great deal of cooperation and teamwork. Working cooperatively and in teams means tasks are performed jointly, the goals are shared and the end product is the result of a collective effort. The way you work is extremely cooperative and there is always a reason to communicate. Teamwork involves group evaluation and team response, whereas where I come from employees are considered as individuals and therefore are only responsible for their own performance. The Icelandic work mentality is more focused on a shared goal and it is based on team effort instead of individual competitiveness. You have the opportunity to develop as a professional in cooperation with your colleagues."

Meetings & Social Activities

“Meetings facilitate a culture in which everything is open for discussion and everyone is allowed to contribute their point of view. This is the exact opposite of my experience of meetings as forums for giving orders and listening to management briefings and decisions that have already been made. Meetings tend to be more for debating and consensus seeking. The meeting is not for giving orders “you do this”, and “you do that.” Here you discuss together what to do and how to do it, it is expected to give more feedback and always contribute. You are allowed to argument and elaborate your opinion.”

Icelandic mentality

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“Doing something on your own initiative, original or something out of ordinary it is encouraged and perceived as a positive thing. Icelanders are very optimistic and happy, with positive attitude towards life. If they are experiencing some difficulties or problems, the general belief is that “it will sort itself out.” What surprised me positively was the notion that equality (gender equality) and quality of work life are important aspects of the culture. There is emphasis on work life balance and respect. Everyone’s individual opinion is respected.” We at LS Retail consider us very lucky that Anja decided to send that email in March and thankful for her contribution to our company. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Thank you Anja. If you are interested, like Anja was, we welcome your internship application. We look forward to getting to know you.