Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Adapting To a Different Work Place

At work, we are getting into the design phase. I am under pressure to complete the design document. I guess I am being tested to produce because I am the analyst assigned to this project. I have been here for about 6 months and I think I have achieved a small measure of respect with the tasks I am assigned to. I still have a lot of catching up to do but I feel that I have staked out my position and competence. It’s not really a difficult challenge as the folks around here are not demanding. One just needs to be present to achieve success. I guess some one famous mentioned that success is just showing up.

I like that because it connotes a very kind and forgiving work environment. One is given a chance to speak up and contribute. But I noticed the patience as well that everyone gives to each participant. They pause and wait and consider the other’s opinion. So sometimes I have to really control myself and let everyone speak. I have to keep silent and wait a few seconds more for others to express their opinion. Unlike in Asia, where everyone rattles off like a machine gun and every one should speak their piece immediately in case some one would utter a statement that would undercut you.

It’s different here because there is no cut throat urgency that I sometime feel back in Asia. Maybe it was because of the fast pace of life over in Asia or perhaps the easy going way of life here. I really like the atmosphere where there is no rush to get things done. People take their time not because they are slow but because there is virtue in not rushing to do things. Everything is well thought out and considered with everyone expressing their opinion. So there is a consensus that is reached instead of one making isolated decisions. I guess this is the correct way of working which I did not practice back in Asia and resulted in misunderstanding and arguments.

I guess I did not do what I am doing now because I did not feel that I had the support and encouragement back then. Somehow I seem to feel that I had to define the solution myself instead of asking contributions from everyone else. I failed in this respect especially in my projects with the boss man. I did not feel prepared to organize sessions with other contributors. Perhaps it’s because the segregation of work or maybe the roles or assignments are much clearer and well defined over here. It felt like a race then to get things done or one will lose credit. So other people would be doing your job instead of you. But here the roles are much clearer and I guess so is the pressure.

This is what it means to adapt to the work culture here. There is exhilaration along with the patience and respect but there is also pressure that one should contribute and deliver one’s assigned task. I still have trouble getting myself understood mainly because I talk too fast and jump to conclusions which the others have not reached yet. So the trick is to prepare the others to move along your flow of thought. So the challenge is to express your line of thinking so they can understand where you are coming from. I only realize it now because people here try to help you and make you understand how you can adjust. Empathizing with them is also a way of adapting to the local culture successfully.

Another challenge is to be included into the team who has been working together for a few years. So I guess it is a challenge of gaining credibility by showing one’s experience and competence. I am glad that my past experiences are helping now and I have reached an age where I can detach myself from my emotions and respond appropriately to the culture. But there is still a lot of self improvement and awareness for me to achieve but at least I am conscious of the situation and its challenges. Perhaps my coming experiences in the local Toastmaster will help me adapt better.

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