Culture Shock within the United States?

Good morning colleagues.

          For anyone that has lived in Seattle for any length of time knows that Seattle has a very different pace and style all its own. The pace was dramatically slower, sometimes I felt as if I were working in slow motion. People took their time. They spent extra time in relationships and conversation. They found importance in people, not the tasks or deadlines. Seattleites as they call themselves seemed to accomplish the same tasks—at least eventually; however their way of getting around the proverbial mulberry bush was vastly different. *grins*
         For example, when the General Manager (GM) came to work, often he wore a Polo Shirt and khakis. Really? For me, one did not even consider talking to the GM unless one had on their Red Power Suit—dressed to the nines. Here, the culture was far more layed back with Birkenstocks, khakis and polo shirts. The suits came out—but certainly not to the level in Chicago. For company meetings and parties, there was a different level of sophistication and dress that took nearly a year for me to understand. I didn’t expect culture shock as I was still in the United States, right? (Rhetorical question *grins*).
          The question I had to ponder was, which way was better, more effective, more productive? I’m not sure that I could offer a clear cut; one was right, and the other wrong type of perspective. After my frustration for nearly a year in trying to adapt to this new culture, I finally had to ‘lose my Chicago Attitude’ and any comparative analysis. I simply had to see this as a new job AND quite frankly, a new company. When I stopped comparing, I had a far easier time of success and began to assimilate and understand. I simply saw this new job and new location as a new opportunity within my career.
          For anyone that has transferred with a company, this may sound all too familiar. I struggled for the longest time trying to make sense of the ‘company’ I worked for. I had a hard time reconciling the differences, despite the company insisting that all locations functioned exactly the same. I would most certainly disagree to my core. Why the major differences? This could all be attributed to the nature of key indicators regarding culture and perception of senior leaders (as well as staff) at each location respectively. These are salient points for us to ponder further as we continue to build on our expanding understanding of culture.

Dr. Cheryl Lentz
Chief Refractive Thinker®

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References

Cameron, K. S., & Quinn, R. E. (2011).  Diagnosing and changing organizational culture: Based on the competing values framework.  (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.   

Deal, T. E., & Bolman, L. G. (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice and leadership, (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 

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September 14th, 2011 by admin

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