From the fiery talk of last week’s blog where the Belgian employer and employee levels of taxation came under attack, this week I want to focus on a more passive subject. Matthijs van der Want’s reflective comment on the article, reminded us of a very important point. No matter how unfortunate the situation might be, people tend to accept their lot and learn how to survive and thrive within it. As Matthijs reminds us, a sales person is still motivated by their bonus even when the government has taken more than half of it away in taxes. They simply accept that taxation is an inevitable fact of life. In my book ‘Making a Difference’ I have a chapter dedicated to coping with the conditions in which we are forced to do business.

From Seoul in South Korea to, Ulm in Germany and on to Brussels and Boston, one needs to adjust to the business environment that surrounds us. The youthful passion for trying to force change, gives way to middle aged acceptance (luckily, otherwise we would have teenagers with little or no experience ripping apart our well proven and solid structures).

However, I digress – the point I want to make is that to be a really top class interim manager you need to be able to quickly adapt to the culture of the environment you find yourself in. If you are working for a Government institution one day and a very dynamic American pyramid sales organization the next, you simply can not expect that you can re-mould the corporate culture to suit your own personal style, beliefs and methodology. After all, isn’t it this that makes interim management so attractive for us freelancers?

On Thursday night I stood in the rain (partly sheltered by the stadium’s canopy) watching Anderlecht play Tottenham Hotspurs in a UEFA championship match. The pitch looked great but in fact it was soaking wet, making ground play risky, slow and unpredictable. For the players there was an increased risk of injury and shots at goal often were sent flying off course by poor contact between foot and ball. I prefer to watch football being played on a dry pitch in cool weather, where the players can perform most efficiently. I also like stadiums that are full with an equal number of supporters from both sides (the jeering interaction can be extremely inventive and stimulating), but this situation occurs very rarely. My host at the match told me that he preferred to play football in the wind and rain, where you are battling against both the elements and the opposing side.

No matter what type of interim management contract we might be engaged on, in order to improve a situation, or ‘fix’ a certain problem, we do have to first of all to accept and then adapt to the general culture we find ourselves in and then move on from there. I call it the ‘Departure Point’. The point when you step into a situation, have your first briefing and are busy making your analysis. The culture is part of your assessment strategy and provides an important part of your future strategy and implementation techniques.

So I will ‘accept’ Belgium’s taxation levels (if only to try and keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level). However, if and when I get a chance to influence the situation, I will step up and express my views, in the vain hope that they might just ‘make a difference’.