Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Culture Change?

Americans are great communicators. It is always an advantage when the universal language of communication is your First Language and comes naturally to you. But I think there is something more to this skill. Even if we allow people to speak in their First Language(for me Bengali), per my experience, many Indians won't be able to communicate as effectively as Americans. I think it is more around training and social culture. You may not effectively learn to count or make logical decisions in an US school but you must learn how to speak dramatically or 'sell' something. US culture rewards 'extrovert salespersons' rather than 'introvert builders'.

Don't take me wrong - effective communication is a great skill. It is so much easy when your co-worker can articulate exactly what he is looking for. But sometimes this culture of speaking more and doing more hurts us. US workers possibly send more emails and attend more meetings than any country in the world. We always prefer to keep everything 'in writing' and inform as many people as possible as 'FYI' even if the receiver has nothing to do with the development. Possibly because we don't trust each other - we always hope that in case of a crisis I will be saved if I can show my boss that I wrote an email(remember your Boss may get terminated during the crisis and you too). Or for that matter I won't be sued if I keep a 200 page disclaimer which nobody(except the one who will find a flaw and sue you) will read.

US work ethic is legendary-US has one of the most hard-working, innovative and entrepreneurial  labor class in the world. US workers have best skill sets with the capability of generating highest level of productivity(my mistake - they have one of the best level of productivity in the world!). But I have a feel that something is wrong and we can do better. It needs culture change, it needs right focus, it needs right reward system. We need to do less and focus more on most important problems, we need to reward the introvert imagineers - the builders and architects of the society. We need to create a work environment of trust and empathy and kill the easy path of flattery and PowerPoint to progress in corporate ladder.

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