Monday, January 23, 2012

The World of Work: 4 months and 19 days

I've now been employed with Etihad for 4 months and 19 days. No, I'm not counting, it's just my fascination with scorecards that got me to download a countdown app and that's how the app tracks time. And at this time, I thought it a good idea to take stock and share a little of what I've learned these past 4 months and 19 days.

Some things are the same: blackberry texting in the middle of a training class; major projects started with no consideration of the resources needed to pull them off; assumptions made with the best of intentions; and dedicated staff willing to help out wherever they can.

I work with a great group of people - passionate about what they do and willing to laugh at themselves whenever needed. There are 7 of us in the office - South African, Scottish, Egyptian, 2 Indian, Emirati and me. We work hard and laugh hard and that's just the way I like it.

And then there are the differences, which really make coming to work each day an adventure.

Class Attendance: Back at TDS, we had trouble with cancellations and no shows for our classes, but those issues don't hold a candle to what I've experienced here.  Cancellation often happens last minute, if at all, and more often than not, participants just decide not to show up or let us know about it. My worst experience was a class scheduled to have 11 and 5 showed up. Frustrating for me, the students and certainly not the best use of our resources. The good news is that the employees who do show up are incredibly appreciative and really want to learn. Almost every set of evaluations includes a suggestion that we make the class LONGER and that we build in more role plays!! Unheard of back home.

Voicemail: As I've mentioned in other posts, VM doesn't really exist here for cellular (I mean, mobiles) and land lines are few and far between and rarely, if ever, have voicemail. At work, we all have Cisco IP phones configured with voicemail, but no one uses it. The common practice is to ring someone and hang up before it goes to VM, then when the recipient gets back to his desk, he checks his missed call log and rings you back. It took me a few bewildered conversations to realise that even if I leave a VM, no one will listen to it - they'll just ring me back instead. So, I've adapted.

New Buzzwords: Working with so many different nationalities exposes me to a whole new set of corporate buzzwords. So much fun is this comparison that we've started capturing the phrases on a whiteboard in our office. Here's a sample of what we've collected so far:
  • Do the needful - my personal favourite - usually accompanies a request of some sort and asks the recipient to do what's needed to fulfill the request
  • Kind Regards - standard closing to most emails. The US practice of closing with "thanks" or something similar is rare here (except for me who can't break the habit).
  • Agree objectives - the word agree isn't followed by with "on" here. So you agree timescales; agree work streams or agree decisions. Took a little getting used to and I still slip back from time to time, but for the most part, I've adapted to this one too.
  • Pitch up - My colleague came back from training frustrated because she had 6 registered for a class and only 2 "pitched up". I figured out with some questioning that this is the equivalent of 'showed up' ... and then it went on the whiteboard.
  • For Africa - apparently this is commonly used in the UK and South Africa when referring to an excess of something. For example, we've got enough printouts here for Africa; she's got enough problems for Africa. My theory is we don't use this in the US cuz it's as big as Africa, so we'd have to say "we've got enough printouts for the US" ... and that just doesn't have the same ring to it.
It's fun and luckily I'm surrounded by co-workers willing to explain the things that don't make sense and happy to make fun of me when I do something "really American". Just the other day, a co-worker said she met someone "way more American than you, Renee". This other woman was apparently from Boston and "full on" to use her words. A bit loud, obnoxious and annoying by the sounds of it. So, I gave the her a short briefing on East Coast vs West Coast vs MidWest and that seemed to clear things up a bit. :)

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