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Bedoor Bluemoon

Everyday writing to expose the soul

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Synchronization at Work

Synchronize

synchronized swimming

It is well known that companies must work towards a common goal.  The company’s mission statement and vision cascades down into department goals and measurable KPIs (key performance indicators) and further into individual employee goals.  Everyone in the company must understand what they are working towards and how they fit in the big picture.

In 1962, John F. Kennedy visited NASA and met a janitor on his tour.  He stopped the tour, introduced himself, and asked him what he was doing.  The janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon.” You see, the janitor knew his role in the organization and was able to articulate it.

How many employees don’t know what they’re doing?  It’s easy for employees who work in non-profit organizations to have a sense of meaning in their job, or employees who work in the medical field and other roles, but what about employees who work in the banking sector, for instance?  What about those working for insurance companies?  What’s their role?  Well, Mr. President, we are here to put some fear into people and make them bet they won’t die in 10 years.”  Doesn’t really fit, does it?

In organizations, it is crucial to communicate the goal (mission/vision) of the organization.  You can’t expect employees to have a sense of meaning without informing them because someone else might inform them something different.  How many times were rumors the only source of information for employees?  When induction training isn’t given importance, new hires are getting their induction training elsewhere and you, as a manager, can’t control what information they are being fed.  Therefore, induction training is needed to start the communication channels.

Open communication during the employment is also important.  Managers must discuss employee’s goals or performance plan in the beginning of every cycle, explain the expected outcomes, follow up during the cycle, and finally discuss the results at the end of the cycle.  This ensures that the employee is kept informed throughout his employment of his expected performance.

It is ideal to be able to measure performance and make sure it is in line with the organizational goals.  It is also important that companies understand that when outsiders contact one person from that company, he/she is representing the company and not him/herself.  The company is seen as a whole entity where individual employees are a part of the bigger picture.  It is important for managers to keep everyone synchronized (in sync) regardless of the many times that they may feel like they will miss a step or even drown.

In the end, it is how you portray yourself as a company.  Should you have the bad swimmers thrown off your team?  Should you be expected to learn new moves and get out of the water smiling?  And should you be able to jump through hoops and perform hand stands to make your customers happy?

And what if you’re a monopoly?  Would any of this matter or should we expect to watch a very bad show?

Synchronize your employees, the show must go on.

 

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First Impressions

Impression

impressions

First impressions are usually everlasting impressions.  When you meet someone for the first time, you immediately decide what kind of person he is, whether he is educated or not, what he does for a living, what his social status is, and other issues that brand the other person and place him in a specific box.  Other people, upon meeting you, also do the same thing even though we sometimes forget and try to stand by that people shouldn’t be labelled without knowing them.

Well, it’s a shallow world and people will see what you present to them.

When entering the workforce, newly graduated students are informed to wear a suit to your interview and make sure to go on time.  They are right, it makes a big difference in your employ-ability rating (how employable are you.)

Some issues cannot be changed such as if the person you are meeting generalizes all women into being soft or all people who graduate from a certain college to be smart.  Some generalizations may come to your advantage but you will never know which would fit your future boss.

So to make sure you are doing things the right way, at least in the perspective of many managers out there, make sure to follow these points when meeting someone for the first time, especially if you are going into a job interview.

1- Make sure you prepare for the interview in advance.  Read about the company you are going to and know the position you are applying for (you’d be surprised how many people aren’t sure).

2- Make sure you know the means you will use to get to your interview and what route you will be taking.  You don’t want the interview jitters to mix with traffic and a blank mind.

3- Print your CV and use a sheet protector to protect it.  Make sure to keep an extra copy just in case there might be more than one person interviewing you.

4- Arrange what you will be wearing in advance.  Give yourself a chance to go buy something just in case.  Choose what you will wear wisely.  This is very important, your clothes should fit you correctly, you need to make sure that your outfit is ironed, and you shouldn’t be running around last minutes looking for your other pair of shoes.

5- Read and review your CV.  Yes you may have just written it but you might not remember all points listed.  You do not want to be in a situation where the person interviewing you is asking when you graduated and you mix up your dates.  This puts a big question mark on who actually wrote your CV which makes you an unreliable candidate.

6- Make sure that you get a good night sleep.  You need to be fully rested.  So ignore Netflix and get yourself into bed.

7- On the day of the interview, do something that relaxes you spiritually.  You may choose to pray or meditate or call your mother for support.  Do something that would give you an extra boost of confidence.

8- Make sure you care for your hygiene.  Take a shower, use deodorant, brush your teeth, wipe your shoes, and put some – not overwhelming, perfume.  Do not smoke before your interview, they can smell it on you and it’s not pleasant.

9- Get there at least 15 minutes before the interview.  Give yourself some time to relax and get acquainted to your surroundings.  When walking in, pay attention to the surroundings, they might give you some information about the company and how it functions

10- When your name is called, breathe, stand up straight, and with confidence walk into the room.  Knock on the door, smile to the person you see, and go for a good handshake.  In some cultures, males and females are not supposed to have any physical interactions so make sure you know the culture you are in too.

11- Sit when requested and look the part

12- Answer genuinely.  Honesty is the best policy.  Talk clearly and maintain eye contact.  When you don’t know the answer to a question simply say that you don’t.  It’s alright.

13-  When given the chance, try to talk about your accomplishments as objectively as possible.  You are simply stating facts so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

14- Show your interest in what the interviewer is saying.  You need to listen attentively and respond accordingly.  THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO DAYDREAM!!

15- At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer and if you are not told what the next step would be, ask politely.  One way would be, “would I be getting a call in either case of acceptance or rejection?”

16- Breathe: you can now daydream, take off your tie, get into your slacks, forget to shower, and simply be you.

Good  luck 🙂

Lesson #1 at Work

welcome

We’ve all been there.  Our puppy eyes wide open and looking forward to our first day in our job.  We were finally able to convince someone working in the HR department of some company that we actually know what we’re doing and, surprisingly, they take our word for it.  The excitement, the anxiousness,, the butterflies in our stomach, the sleepless night, and the many outfits we tried are all witnesses to our new step.  We don’t just panic, we ARE panic.  We don’t have breakfast that morning and have a coffee instead.  Everything seems to be surreal and amazing.  We walk up to the office and meet the sweet HR lady who, for what we believe, is our only support in the new found land.  We listen intently to every word she says.  Induction… break time… new employee… parking… refrigerator… telephone… the list goes on.  You hear some words and miss out much more. And if your workplace is big, you fear getting lost.

“meet your colleague, XYZ, he is assigned to be your ‘buddy’ and show you around.  For the first two days, just be his shadow.”

And you look in the face of your new friend.  Your only friend in this unknown land and you smile, thinking that this is going to get better, that this is not so bad after all.  So you put all your trust in that one person and think that you have grown from being the newborn holding onto your HR mother to a toddler, happy to go a bit further and spread your wings.

Now, you took it as a given that XYZ is a good person.  A person who will tell you the truth and give you insights as to how to conduct yourself in the workplace.  Little did you know that many times XYZ turns out to be something else.  Let’s take different scenarios:

XYZ is a

1- Loser.  So you end up being stamped as a loser from day 1, thereby losing all your chances in ever being a part pf  the in group

2-Disgruntled employee.  So you end up hearing what a bad place your work is and you question your decision regarding taking the job

3- Lunatic.  So you end up questioning everything including your sanity and you may also turn into a lunatic yourself (remember, this is your first job so you’re fairly young)

4- Optimist.  So you see flowers everywhere you go and will end up falling flat on your face when reality strikes

5- Pessimist.  Similar to disgruntled employee, a pessimist at work will show you how bad your work is.  You leave your job and end up with somewhere worse, thereby wishing time would go back.

6- Mafia king.  You can be taken under his wing if you are lucky and will feel like a part of the family until someone ends up sleeping with the fishes and you question your “luck”

7-Mean girl.  You throw all caution (and your values) to the wind and be part of the group.  You only question yourself if (and only if) something wrong happens because being a mean girl is just fun

giphy

8- Nerd.  And thereby dig a grave for your social life.

But you could also end up meeting a friend.  Someone who would always be there and who would always give you great advice.

Be careful who you hang out with once you go somewhere new, it could make or break you.  Take things slowly, understand that the person introducing you is just doing his job and you can always find the circle you are most comfortable with.

After all, isn’t work just like school at a bigger scale?  And isn’t life just the same?

Try to play by your own rules and be comfortable with who you are.

Good luck

Folder Dividers- Simple Instructions

dividers.jpg

Stationery items are crucial for the day to day operations at work and therefore stationery shops excel at providing different and unique ways to organize work.  Walking into a stationery shop or the stationery section of any store expands the horizons of any obsessively compulsive person.  The different types of papers, pens, book ends, posters, calendars, and so forth are just a few.  You end up buying things you never thought you needed and, surprisingly, end up using them (unlike clothes which usually reside in the cupboard for a few years before being discarded recklessly.)  The beauty of organization can only be seen with color coding, neatly binding, and beautifully filing paperwork in box files using the correct dividers.

Dividers.

There is a vast array of dividers and, as you all know, each serves a purpose.  We are introduced to dividers early in our school years and it becomes second nature to us how and what we can use them for.  The horror of meeting someone who doesn’t know exceeds all horrors and the horrifying experience is intensified when the person uses them WRONG.

The story:  we are organizing customer files at our workplace and want to introduce dividers in each to distinguish different pages from one another.  Simple?  It should be.  I delegate the matter (this is probably where I went wrong) and expect the file to come back perfect.  A few days later, I look at a file with a divider – 15 sections- and a list of silly useless headers.  So I scratch the useless, merge the similar, and end up with 6 sections.  I left the issue at that and expected (my second mistake) that the 15 section divider will be carefully removed and stored away for another upcoming folder that needs 15 parts.

Are you still following me?  So I changed the 15 divider to 6 and asked for the file back.  I get this:

2017-03-05-21-51-55

Do you see 1-6?  Now do you see where 7-15 should have been?  Where are the 7-15?  How and why and in what sense can they be used at a later stage?  Would we have another file with 7-15 dividers?  What is that?  Can that even be called organizing?  And to top it all off, I had to explain that this is not the way to use dividers.  Because of the carelessness that accompanied where the 7-15 dividers would go, I chose to answer in a not-so-polite way that this is not right.

To sum up, how to use dividers:

1- Identify the papers you want to file.  How will you arrange and organize them?  Take note of the number.  Would it make sense to file the papers chronologically?  If so, buy a monthly divider, it not, buy the one with numbers.  You could even get dividers color coded only.

2-  Add 1-2 more dividers just in case

3- File the papers and write the sections

Do not remove half the numbers.  If you are mistaken, you can always buy a new set and store the wrong one for use at a later stage.  Do not divide dividers, they are like a family.

Over-communication

dilbert-over-communicate

Effective communication in the workplace is very important.  Employees usually work within teams and thus it is very critical for them to be able to communicate their ideas to their colleagues clearly and effectively.  Any shortcomings could lead to vast losses in organizations; thus training centers are glad to provide companies with great effective communication and team building workshops.  An ideal workplace with effective communication leads to one clear of misunderstandings, problems, and issues that could have been avoided.

How many times did you look someone and ask, “why didn’t you just TELL me?”

That was  the issue.

Lack of communication.  The inability to find the recipient.  The inability to find the method to communicate.  The inability to formulate and articulate the words to be sent.  Messages in bottles thrown at sea, a woman waiting for a telegram from her fiance, a mother not knowing her daughter is giving birth because no-one was there to run out and tell her, dates arranged weeks in advance, and letters written and sent out by messengers on horses.

In effective communication is not just an issue at work, it is also an issue at a social level; be it between spouses, friends, a parent and her child, and so forth.

So with the introduction of Emails, companies embraced Blackberries and were glad to invest in a device for each employee to ensure that they can be reached at all times.  That was the end of work-life-balance for a lot of people.  Managers took for granted the sacred home of employees and thought themselves entitled to time away from work.  The whole idea of leaving work’s issues at the doorstep of your home ceased to exist.

Enter the smart phone and social networking apps.

The line between work and home got so blurred there is no line!  Work gets taken home, the employee’s mind keeps thinking of issues at work while he’s on the dinner table with his family, checking his email because, come on, China’s market just opened and the middle east work on Sundays.  Globalization going viral, pressing pause is no longer an option.

Or is it?

The amount of words coming at us from our device is astounding!  The emails, the messages, the social chats, the game requests (aaargh!!), the friend requests, the Youtube subscriptions, the podcasts, birthday notifications, meeting notifications, any notifications!!  Where…did…my…time…go?

We no longer work an eight hour day, we don’t even have a continuous hour at work without being interrupted.  We no longer focus at work, we no longer focus at home, we no longer have vacations without checking our mail because our spouses are being “unreasonable” for asking us to be out of sync with the world.

But are we in-sync when we go for our devices or are we in-sync when we ignore them?

Over communicating.  Don’t accept it and stop doing it.

I do not need to see your every meal.  I do not need to see what decision you need to make when it comes to your nail polish.  I do not need to know what you did last week at work and what you will be doing this week, I am not even in your department.  I do not need to see your children run up the beach, YOU need to see your children run up the beach.  You need to be focusing on the project.  You need to be focusing on the numbers.  You need to be ignoring spam emails.  We need to uninstall these wonderfully time-consuming instant messaging apps.  We need to keep the phone in the car and go out with our friends.  We need to filter over communication and keep the place quiet.  Our minds are not used to being wound up all the time, we need some time to think, to meditate (which is why meditation is so popular nowadays), we need some time to breathe.  To speak to people who we need to only.

Please stop over communicating.  This is going out of control and we are allowing it.

I-robot???

Management By Surprise

There are many management styles and theories in history and managers are usually open minded in trying them out.  Two of the basic management styles we learned back in college were the theory X of management and the theory Y of management; theory X basically states that all employees are bad and don’t want to work so they need to be constantly supervised and disciplined (we put a big X on them).  Theory Y states that all employees are good and are willing to work and need guidance and positive reinforcements.  Through my somewhat limited years in management, I have tried out both and saw that the best fit depends on the employee, the manager, the organizational culture, and other factors; management is both a science and an art since managers are dealing with different personalities and emotions.

Emotions are being recognized nowadays as an important factor in organizations and emotional intelligence is a fairly recent concept introduced to the world.  What I think, in my opinion, is that using emotions to manage is a good tool even though it might seem to some a bit manipulative.  Visiting a sick employee in the hospital creates an emotional tie between the employee and the manager; not visiting the same employee will create a negative grudge that will forever stay with the employee and his psychiatrist will be the only one to assist him in letting go. (Let it Go- Frozen soundtrack).

So what other emotions can we use?

Put yourself in this situation: you are sitting at home watching TV and all of a sudden, your spouse walks in and tells you how much he/she appreciates you.  Well, that’s sweet.  Now picture yourself in the same situation and a complete stranger walks in (let’s assume you kept the door unlocked) and tells you how much he/she loves you.  Wait, what? You feel different because of the element of surprise.  Interesting how surprise causes an adrenaline flow.

Now back to the business environment.  Picture yourself sitting at your desk checking your emails and your boss suddenly announces that you must all pack your things as he is taking you out to the beach to discuss how to best develop your jobs.  Wait, What?  Why is surprise a good thing?  Well, people are habitual creatures; they like to fall back on a specific routine and have things all within their comfort zone.  The salesman who was assigned in branch A for the past two years is content, relaxed, happy, and doesn’t want any change. He is probably doing the minimum as he is working on autopilot from the second he stepped out of his home.  What can you do?  Change his schedule and shift him to another place (employee rotations).  He will have to think which route to take, will have to try out different routes on the way to work, will meet different types of people in the new location and will have to, at least, pay attention to the different things around.  Now that is beneficial for the organization and even to the employee who will be able to increase his skills and knowledge.

Daily routines kill the development of your organization and change is important.  As a manager, instead of managing by walking around, try to manage by surprise.  Shake the grounds a little, do things you never did before and ask for things you never even thought of before.  Change the format of the forms.  Change the layout of the office space.  Rotate people around and switch cubicles, buy lunch one day, the crazier you are the more ground you will shake.  The more your employees wonder what will go on in their day at work, the more you are likely to have employees who are awake.  Don’t scare them, surprise them.  Don’t spoil them, make them wonder what’s on your mind.

The best managers are alive with ideas.  Put some life back into your dead organization.

Email Writing- The CAPS Story

Business-Email-1080x675

Writing this post seems like deja vu to me but I can’t seem to find any previous post that addressed this topic.  A similar post is Hold your Horses- Reality Funnier than a Joke since it discusses a pretty annoying email I received a while back but this contains other issues.

So this is what happened today: I received an email from, let’s say a work colleague who I’m not so keen about, requesting some missing documents to finalize some issue being cleared with a governmental agency.  Fair enough.  The problem is I received the email directly after I was given the bunch of papers requesting the same documents penciled in on the top page.  Now firstly, if you are requesting something, give the person time to get it done; I would not be able to handle your request from the ground floor till the second floor, it’s impossible!  You see, the issue wasn’t that I was asked more than once, the issue was with the timing of both requests.

The cringe factor while reading the email came up when I SAW THE EMAIL WRITTEN IN CAPS.  WHY?  Why would you request something from someone, anyone, in caps?  I felt like the person who sent the email was sitting behind her desk throwing a tantrum.  The email was basically as follows:

Subject: NEED MISSING PAPERS

Dear Ms. Bedoor,

Please check the list of missing papers we need.  Thank you.

1- ORIGINAL PASSPORT OF THE THE EMPLOYEE
2- AUTHORIZATION LETTER ADDRESSED IN THE NAME OF MR. X 
3- XXX
4- YYY

When I first read the subject line, I thought that the MISSING PAPERS were urgent and couldn’t wait.  It only occurred to me later on that it was the last day before the weekend which means that nothing can be done until after, so why bother jumping through hoops for something that can easily be obtained and also postponed.

I did just that.

For people who work with emails, please note the following tips that could help your emails be more professional:

1- Enter a thought of subject in the subject line.  You want to introduce the recipient with the topic of your email

2-Use the correct name of the person you are addressing.  Make sure the spelling is correct and you know the gender (Mr. or Ms.).  I received an email from Turkey, I think, and the lady was clear enough to sign her name with a Ms. in the end to inform me that she is a lady since their names were unfamiliar to us.  I thought it was a smart move, it makes dealings more realistic.

3- Use a simple greeting and ask about the person on at least wish them well.  Yes, this is merely diplomatic but we need to give our emails a bit of a human touch.

4- Be clear and precise about what you are communicating.  Make sure your words are not misunderstood by using simple and straight forward sentences.  Keep your sentences short especially if you are dealing with people who don’t have English as a first language.  If possible, use the recipient’s first language to communicate.

5- Do not give extra information.  The more information you give, the longer the email gets and your point gets lost.  They don’t need to know about the new taxation rules your country is enforcing because it doesn’t matter.  When proofreading, think of every single sentence and how it adds/takes away from the value of your email.

6- Have a call for action.  You are sending the email because you want something to be done, what is it.  Ask clearly.  Use sentences such as, “based on the above, please…” and “Therefore, we would appreciate if you…”

7- Stay formal.  The email you are sending is for business communication, make sure it stays as such.  Do not use emoticons (I really feel like I wrote about this!), do not use slang words, and do not use acronyms such as “btw” and “lol”.

8- Proofread.  proofread your email to make sure it contains all the points you wanted to address and you do not have any excess fat.

9- Fill in the correct email address.  I prefer to add the email address after making sure it’s ready to be sent.

10- Close with a thank you and best regards.  Make sure your signature contains the correct information.

10- Do not use caps and expect your email to be regarded positively.

 

Choosing a Linkedin Photo

linkedin

Linkedin is a a business oriented social networking service.  People use it to display their CVs and have recruiters (or headhunters) approach them for employment opportunities or even to network with people in similar fields.  Companies also can create their page and share news, articles, and any other important issues.  Some people use it to share their experiences and post articles they wrote in hope someone might listen to them.  Like any other social networking service, Linkedin gives the opportunity to post a photo of yourself.

Being a member of the Linkedin community for a few years, I have come across many photos of people I know (and people I don’t know) that make me wonder what they were thinking when they chose to upload their photo.  Well, I then decided to scroll down the list of People You May Know and be struck with disbelief.  Since this is a professional social networking site, I thought that people would care about their image; I mean, their profiles are open for recruiters and maybe their future bosses.

I came up with the following tips:

1- Selfies using any Snapchat filters are not acceptable.  Do not, under any circumstances, believe that anyone would recruit you if you have dog ears or a flower halo above your head. Even if you think you look cute, this is not the right picture.  I could even say that selfies are not acceptable because the angle is all wrong and shows that you did not take the time nor effort to have a professional picture taken.

2- A cartoon drawing of yourself is not OK unless you are the artist and are trying to show your talent.

3- A picture of yourself sitting behind a huge desk just makes you seem desperate.  Don’t top it off acting like you’re busy writing something either.  It’s so obvious.

4- A picture of you caught in mid-laugh.  This is not Facebook and it may be one of your favorite but keep it for your social group only.

5- Do not post a picture of yourself behind a billiard table.  Do not post a picture of yourself with any weird background such as the kitchen (unless you’re a chef), or in a party, or on vacation with the beach behind you.  You want to seem like you are at work, wearing work clothes, and getting work done.  If your work is associated with healthy living and yoga, for example, a picture with some tress in the background may be alright.  But if you have nothing to do with nature, stay away from it.

6-  Look approachable.  Post a picture that makes you look approachable.  A nice smile goes a long way.  You don’t want your picture to resemble a mug shot nor an adult dating service profile pic.

7- Do not post a picture with you wearing a cowboy hat (or any kind of hat).  Do not post a picture with sunglasses, people want to see your face.

8- I’m not 100% sure of this point as it may go either way.  I have seem a few pictures with the person holding a camera and another listening in his headset.  I think it’s a smart thing to be done, that is, showing people what you do; but some recruiters might not appreciate the obviousness.  This should be taken carefully, I wouldn’t feel so keen about a  bank teller holding money in his hands.

9- Make sure the picture is clear and your face shows: stay away from shadows.  Don’t use a picture with you covering your face with your arm, nor a picture with you looking away.

10- Do not use your children’s pictures.  Again, this is a professional networking site, people will want to see what you are doing not how old your child is.  You are NOT trying to get your children employed so keep them out.

11- If you choose to post a picture with something that identifies your current job, go ahead but know that you are not your job.  You have a set of knowledge, skills, and abilities that are deeper than any job can provide.  Plus, when or if you leave your job, you don’t want to forget to change your picture or you’ll end up looking desperate.  Don’t wear your uniform in your picture either (for those who have uniforms in their jobs).

12- Do not post yourself bowling, ice skating, playing soccer, playing with your pet tiger, eating out with your friends, or doing what you do in your spare time.  You are supposed to portray how you are at work, not out of work.  People want to employ you, not date you.

13-  Keep your image right side up.  Yes, some people have their pictures sideways.  Would you ever submit your CV with your picture printed sideways?

14- Don’t just crop your face from a group picture and settle for that.  This just shows that you’re lazy.  Also, don’t post yourself with someone else, it confuses people as to which one you are.

15- Make sure your image isn’t so much of a close up nor too far to be unidentifiable.  You want people to recognize you, half a face is not identifiable.

16- Do not post a picture of a logo unless you are a company.  Do not post a picture of your shoes, bag, sunglasses, or cup of coffee.  Again, this is not Snapchat.

These are just a few pointers I came up with after paying attention to the different Linkedin profile pictures, you can also go through your list of friends and can easily identify the best pictures that portray strength, confidence, and reliability.  Stay away from photoshopped images that look nothing like you and try to present yourself professionally.

Remember, you don’t want to resemble any funny high school yearbook pictures, you should know better now than what you knew at 18.

My profile pic?  I still didn’t find one that I’m happy with so wish me luck.

Can We Measure Common Sense?

hanging file

You meet many different types of people at work who lack the skill set to perform, but in my opinion, many things can be taught and learned with the correct performance appraisals, coaching, mentoring, and showing them the way.  The problem is when it comes to common sense: how can it be measured and how can you actually hire and then fire someone with the reason “lacks common sense?”

Firstly, what is common sense?  In the minds of managers, common sense is the way the employee conducts him/herself by abiding by the rules of logic set by the manager.  This is where the mix up starts.  Managers expect their employees to have the commonsense that is equal to theirs.  The problem is, human beings’ common senses is a compilation of their cultural background, personalities, logic, and database of experiences.  How can managers expect their employees to have the same common sense if they have been born, raised, and worked in a different environment?

A simple example is when a manager, without being too stereotypical, was a star baseball player calls in his employees and asks them for a “home run.”  One of his employees who just came in from the middle east, for example, wouldn’t necessarily understand what is meant by his figure of speech and asks.  The manager would immediately think that the employee lacks the common sense because, come on, who doesn’t understand this simple reference to baseball.  No, things don’t necessarily translate well between languages or cultures.  The differences in words describing the same item are clear in multicultural and diversified workplaces in such an evident manner that employees may start joking around without realizing that language barriers in addition to cultural barriers are causing communication gaps.

Common sense is the tacit knowledge a person acquires throughout his years: they include cultural norms and background, personal and professional experiences, personality traits, and all other outside factors that affect the person’s judgment.

To work in a diversified company, employees must understand that their definition of common sense is not easily transferable to other employees; different cultures have a different definition of common sense.  Even though many things can get lost in translation, it’s the misunderstanding that can cause harm in the organization’s harmony.  Many companies either give out a handbook or conduct an induction training for employees to inform them what is considered right and what is wrong in the company and how to conduct oneself.  The trick here is to be able to adapt quickly to the organization’s culture and common sense; should this be considered organizational behavior?

Some companies have the norm of working extra hours without being paid overtime.  Now, a female employee who has other responsibilities at home, would be glad to work for eight hours but as soon as the clock strikes five and she starts going out of the door, her colleagues look at her funny.  It’s the organization’s culture.  She’s not doing anything wrong but they are pressuring her to stay for longer hours just to be part of the accepted group.  Then all the bickering starts about how she leaves at five and doesn’t work hard enough.

Now to my story.

I cannot say that our company is vastly diversified but there are just some things that, I believe, should be considered common sense.  In my studies when discussing the difference in generations at work, it is commonly stated that generation Y employees are very keen on the environment and making a stand to what they believe.  I liked that concept since I took part in many beach clean ups and extinct species reports when I was younger.  And of course, throughout my childhood, I was expected to care for paper: to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

In comes the Gen-Y secretary.

I had some employee files I wanted to file away in the archives and thought that I could ask her to do so.  It’s not that I asked her to do something terribly difficult because she was the person who opened the archive files in the first place and arranged them as she saw correct.  Thus, she was using HER common sense when filing.  I give her seven to ten hanging files (as seen above in the image), some of which are perfectly new and some of which needed to be thrown out ages ago.  Thinking that she has the common sense to distinguish the difference, I did not think of giving her any extra details in my request.

A few days later, I call her up and ask about the employee files:

Me: where are the employee files?

Secretary: I filed them in the box files

Me: no the actual hanging files

Secretary: huh?

Me: the green files

Secretary: I threw them

Me: What?

Secretary: I threw them

Me: can you come up please?

In this instance, I think there is some kind of misunderstanding.  My brain could not get around the idea that she threw away the hanging files.  She comes up and I show her one of the files as a sample.  She repeats that she threw them out.  The million dollar question here is why?  Why did you throw them?

Secretary: (Silence)

Me: They were perfectly new files

Secretary: (silence).

Me: (still in shock and disbelief) did anyone teach you anything about trees and how this is all a waste?!

Secretary: silence

Phone rings, I pick it up and it’s another manager

Me: Please come and explain to Ms. X about the importance of recycling.  (throw my hands up in submission and ask her to go out).

MORAL OF THE STORY: when giving out directions, be very specific because people can’t read your mind.

Should businesses around the world have a universal language or common sense?  Are there already established rules and regulations when it comes to working with businesses from other countries especially with the emergence of e-commerce?

Is there really a big gap in common sense between people from different countries with social networking?  If music is global, books are global, movies are global is the youth in the USA living differently than the youth in Japan?  Being people of the world instead of being associated to one country diminishes some differences in culture (and thus common sense) so youth can easily understand what their counterparts mean when they bring up that amazing hit song of their time.

Are people all required to live a certain way to be accepted and whose culture is the accepted alpha-culture?  What about religion and other taboos that take a big part in some people’s lives, are they supposed to be left at home?  People are made up of their past experiences and thus cannot be requested to leave who they are.  But in terms of working in multicultural environments, the personal common sense must be set aside (or in the back of the minds) and the overall business common sense be ruling.

But does this lack of diversity in a multicultural environment hinder creativity and encourage group thinking?  Aren’t the best companies those who question all processes and procedures and nurture people’s differences?

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