• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint

Attitude Adjustment

What might you do to improve your attitude toward all co-workers regardless of cultural background? Here are three suggestions:

  1. As a permanent employee, take the initiative to build equally good relationships with all co-workers—especially those who are new and from a culture different than your own. Go about building relationships slowly. Translated, this means you should play the role of the friendly, helpful host, but not to the extent that you might put your relationships with your regular co-workers in jeopardy.

    Shirley. Shirley is extremely friendly and outgoing. In fact, when a new employee arrives in her department she tries so hard to build a warm and friendly relationship that she makes it uncomfortable for the new arrival. Why is this? Because the new employee wants to win acceptance from all members of the team; and, if Shirley dominates her orientation, other employees may withdraw somewhat. You might even hear other employees say: “There goes Shirley again, trying to be a one-person welcoming committee.”

    Try to be a comfortable co-worker to know, but do not move too fast. Give the new employee a chance to adjust slowly and build equally good relationships with all team members.

  2. Give those from different cultures the opportunity to demonstrate their special talents. Nothing will make new workers feel more comfortable than to win acceptance through their own performance. Their greatest need is to know that they can contribute. It is natural that newcomers in a work team or department feel shy or reluctant to express their special talents.

    Sue Lin. Sue Lin was raised and educated in Korea where she acquired unusually high computer skills. When Sue Lin took her first job in the United States, she decided, however, to soft-pedal her skills until she found a high degree of personal acceptance. Fortunately for Sue Lin, her team leader knew of her special abilities and brought them into play in a sensitive manner so that Sue Lin was able to win acceptance based on her skills as well as her personal qualities.

    Ramona. A large Canadian investment firm recruited Ramona from Mexico City immediately upon her university graduation. In addition to her accounting degree, she had unusual artistic talent that would be helpful to the advertising department. Her bilingual communication skills would be particularly effective with the company’s growing market of Mexican customers. Because Ramona’s supervisor did not bother to identify Ramona’s strengths and talents, he assigned her to dull work tasks. As a result, her co-workers underestimated the contribution she could make. Had it not been for Jeanne, who made a special effort to know Ramona and discover her background, Ramona might have become discouraged and left the company.

    Obviously, when a new employee becomes a member of a work team, adjustments must be made by all members of the team. If the work setting is not culturally diverse, a new employee from a culture other than the dominant culture of the team may offer additional challenges for everyone.

    For example, let’s assume that you work in a department where three cultures have already formed a highly productive team. The team, made up of mostly males who are African American, Anglo, and Hispanic, have molded together into a single productive unit with little evidence of cultural conflict or disharmony. Then, for the first time, an energetic young Japanese woman is introduced as a new team member. While we, regardless of our cultural background, have already made the adjustment, the new Japanese woman must, in effect, adjust to three different cultures—as well as to our predominently male team. Our challenge is much easier than that of the newcomer.

  3. Apply the mutual reward theory (MRT). Mutual reward means that both individuals benefit from a relationship. The more equally the rewards balance out, the stronger and more permanent the relationship becomes. The MRT performs best when each participant is from a different culture because each person has more to learn from each other than probably could be gained from a less diverse relationship.

    Jahal. After being educated in India, Jahal went to England to work for an export business—a firm eager to expand the market for their products in Jahal’s native country. Initially, Jahal was very uncomfortable in the strange environment. Nearly a month passed before he felt at home and was willing to contribute ideas. Much of this was due to Sonja, a co-worker in the marketing department, who tutored Jahal in British marketing concepts. When the marketing director decided to send Jahal on a promotional trip back to India, Sonja was invited to go along; and Jahal had the opportunity to repay Sonja for her training. As a result, both employees came out ahead, and the win-win philosophy of the mutual reward theory came strongly into play.



Not a subscriber?

Start A Free Trial

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint