Home' micenet eMag : micenet April May 2015 Contents WORKPLACE CULTURE | LYNNE SCHINELLA
obody told you on the golden
ladder to success that dealing
with people was a part of the
In fact, dealing with people is often the
hardest part of any role. It’s much easier for
most of us to get technically proficient at
So in this column I’m going to be talking
people; anything to do with people – the
good, the bad and the ugly. It’s relevant
whether you’re a venue, a PCO, an AV
company, an events manager, a DMC –
whatever. You can try to avoid “people” jobs
(hello AV guys) but it doesn’t work. It’s a
people industry. In fact, I remember my first
interview for TAA – insert Qantas for those
born after 1980 - when they asked me why I
wanted to join the travel industry, I gushed,
because I LOVE people! Sigh, if only I knew.
My thing is always about creating less
stress and greater productivity. And when I
see this in organisations it is pretty much
always down to a lack of understanding and/
or respect for our differences.
Arjun was happy in his new job. He
worked hard and met deadlines. He enjoyed
the team meetings. He was constantly
looking for ways to work more effectively in
his own team. He could see ways he’d like to
change the organisation as a whole but that
wasn’t his role. That was up to someone way
more experienced than him, his CEO, Mike.
Ok, so you can pull together an award-winning knock
your socks off event, but can you deal with people?
Mike was concerned about the latest recruit to his leadership team. Arjun’s credentials were
impeccable. But he wasn’t seeing it. He never bothered to speak up in meetings or contribute.
He didn’t take part in the team-building stuff. When he asked his opinion directly he didn’t share
much of a response and wouldn’t look him in the eye. It was disappointing – he was turning out
to be a bit piss weak and not much of a team player.
There is nothing wrong here except a massive gap in understanding each other’s world view.
In the west we admire and applaud extroverts. The person who speaks up in meetings,
always has an opinion. The person who articulates themself in public.
In the east it is the exact opposite. We applaud the “introvert”. The person who has the
emotional control not to speak up, to interrupt, to jump in. The person who has respect for
In the west we have a flatter workplace structure. In Australia and New Zealand we are
especially casual, calling everyone by their first name regardless of their title.
In the east the structure is more hierarchical, honouring both position and title.
Education is the answer, creating cultural awareness for both employer and employee.
And the logical general rule is that you adapt to the country in which you’re working.
A mate of mine, an Indian Australian, moved to India to start up a business a few years ago.
He managed as he would do as if he were in Australia. He would join the men on their chai
break. He’d bring in samosas from his cook at home to share. He had an open plan office. That
lasted about as long as it takes a good lamb korma to simmer. The workers clammed up when
he was around and felt uncomfortable when offered food. They worked in silence and despite
constant requests would not call him by his first name. He had to make the shift – he was in
their environment. They wanted him to lead. Not to be a mate.
Soon he had his own office and stopped joining them for breaks. Work became normal,
people began to chat and laugh and productivity rose again.
Don’t get tense and stitched up because people do things differently to you. Take the time to
figure out why and you may be surprised how much easier it is to work together. m
Lynne Schinella is a MICE tragic who can’t let go. Working under the guise of creating better workplace
cultures across industry, she misses her role as a buyer and has never adapted to the lack of invitations
to AIME, first class upgrades and Moet on arrival in her hotel room.
Please feel free to send your problem people issues to Lynne and she’ll do everything she can to
include them in a future article. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 0419 186 984 and visit www.
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