Although it is a widely known fact that the work culture here in the US is extremely professional and people schedule their tasks and draw up their work estimates strictly based on 8 hr working days, it has been quite an experience to see them in action. The fact that most people working here push back work which they feel will take them more than 8 hrs a day is prevalent across hierarchical levels. Back home in India, we always try to please our superiors and reporting managers, even if it means pushing ourselves a little extra and burning that midnight oil. But back here, people don’t think twice about putting their foot down if they feel (with adequate justification, I might add) if they feel that the time estimates given to them are unrealistic.
All of this results from the fact that most people here are individualistic and pretty much don’t compare themselves with co-workers. They realize the fact that promotion and appraisal processes here are very transparent, and most of the time, most people get their due desserts. However, back home, in my opinion, we lack the confidence to go against our superiors even when we feel they are being unreasonable, and added to this is the fact that most of the so called transparent processes can actually be manipulated by Managers to meet their own needs.
But the funny part about the work culture here are the Indians in the workforce. For whatever reason, the Indians back here also are pushing themselves crazy. I guess part of it is because working hard is part of our DNA. What they fail to realize is that in today’s workplace, and more so back here in the US, a high premium is paid on working smart rather than just working hard. The Indians here are stuck in a mindset which dictates that whoever works longer, gets rewarded more and faster. Based on what I have seen in the last 3 odd weeks, I guess it is more of a cultural thing for us Indians to work longer rather than work smarter.
I still remember when I was employed with a ‘vendor’ or a ‘strategic partner’ rather than the client itself. In those days, the fact remained that irrespective of actual tasks done, if somebody was “seen” working hard, he would be rewarded in the next appraisal cycle. Even though we work for MNCs back home, who are supposed to be following Global Best Practices when it comes to Rewards and Recognitions, the fact still remained that at heart we were an Indian company with Indian values, the worst of which included reward the subordinates who follow your rules rather than get smart and ensure Value Creation to the client.
Wonder when we Indians will realize that we are all part of a bigger Global Workforce now rather than being stuck in a Colonial Mindset where we blindly follow orders and keep clients happy at any cost. In most of the cases, this is the one reason that holds genuinely brilliant Indians back from making it to higher levels. We Indians, in our culture, place too much of a premium on blindly following orders rather than thinking about how to do things differently and efficiently.
Although the tone of this post may seem anti-Indian, one disclaimer I would like to add is that these are purely personal views and are not intended to sound ‘Indian IT workforce bashing’ in any manner. Just thought that I would bring out the differences between us and our US counterparts. That’s all.