Does they worth it more than us?
I did not feel the sharpness of cultural differences until I had a personal experience that changed my approach and point of view in this matter; I am a well qualified teacher “from the new generation”, I took my education in UAE University with an average grade (B). in addition, I have 3 years working experience in the field of teaching, during these years, I was working hardly to improve myself and raise my professional abilities by attending many training courses, working on educational projects, executing workshops and participating in conferences that held in the ministry.
Recently, I have joined a new school in my neighborhood and upon joining and at my first on duty, the principle of the school has set a welcome meeting with all teachers, I noticed that she talked all the time without interruption from anyone and by the end of her speech, she announced that the academic coordinator of the school should be the most elder teacher among all and justified her decision by the fact (in her opinion) that the academic coordinator must have gained the highest practical experience during her long professional life compared with other teachers.
I was not happy with this decision, not because of the named person which will be chosen as we do not know her yet and maybe she is really capable of doing the job much better than anyone regardless to her age, but because of the mentality of our principal and the base of evaluation she has committed very clearly to be on age and not on effectiveness and efficiency of employees! Everyone in the meeting accepted her notes so I was forced to hide my surprise for not being odd among my colleagues.
When my students first come to the school, I was so enthusiast; standing in front of my class full of power, when suddenly the door has been opened and it was the principal, she greeted the students and asked them about their teacher’s name (my name) and the subject that I teach. After she got the right answer from them, she looked at the class board, read what has been written on it and left the class. Here, I asked her if there is any wrong, but she said that she wanted to make sure that everything is ok. in the following days, she seemed very kind she asked me if I am happy in the school ,walked around our offices asking the workers how they were and if they have any problems they can go to her office and discuss them with her.
Later, our academic supervisor from the ministry of education, a young American educated lady from Tunisia, visited our school and asked for our C.Vs, qualifications and personal development details. Among all teachers, I was admired the most because of my experience and abilities; she described me as qualified for the “Academic Coordinator Post because of my present skills, I can add new ideas and approaches to our institute. Here where the dilemma began!
Our academic supervisor raised the suggestion to the principle but with no hesitation, she refused the idea as she strongly believes that older staff are more capable of high performance, in addition, they are the source of organizational ethics and more competent for wise judgments. As it may be appreciated, the principal has 60% of my yearly appraisal marks and the academic supervisor has only 40% of it so, it will not be wise for me to struggle for the post as it seems to be finalized accordingly, I decided to accept the matter and obey the principal for avoiding her anger consequently and harm my career.
For recovering my pride, I decided to prove my capabilities to her through hard work and efforts no matter what it takes, I meant to prove that effectiveness is not having any relation to age and young people are as capable as seniors to perform beyond expectations.
In one of my attempts to confirm my creativity, I prepared a sample lesson specially for visitors coming from other schools and invited her for demonstrating my presentation but her reply was not to my expectation, she called me to her office and mentioned very clearly that I can’t do anything without her permission, not only that but also for the next time, I must ask her permission before doing anything!
I also approached her with many excellent ideas to improve our school in relation to internal arrangements, paper works, appearance, etc… but her answer was also shocking, that we cannot do any changes without formal request and prior permeation from the educational zone.
After what I have experienced with her, I realized that it will be a difficult task to apply any change in the organization as barriers will be there.
Now serious questions have risen, is respect to elders and seniors is having any inflection with replacing them in business posts? Is the matter of revealing their weakness and lack of knowledge is acceptable? Is it easy to accept that a junior can lead and instruct a senior? Is it OK to replace better and advance education with life experience without people feeling bad? Haw we can match these facts with our established culture? All these problems of struggling between generations can be found in any society but for us, it is very difficult to abandon our norms and couture in these matters and what makes it more difficult is the high self confidant of young generations based on their tools and abilities which mostly influence their attitude and behavior.
No doubt intentions are the concern of God so we cannot judge the approach of the principle in terms of lack of morals or as an effect of culture. As I go through her behavior, it could show a High-Context culture which represented by Edward Hall who “distinguished between high and low context cultures, A high context culture uses high context communication, information is either in the physical context or internalized in the person with little communicated in the explicit words or message. On the other hand, a low context culture employs low context communications; most information is contained in explicit cods.” (Moran, et al.2007,p.49) as she was not so clear in the reasons of her verbal instruction about coming to my class and asking my students about my name and subject and if we face any problem we should go to her office to discuss it instead of discussing it directly. She used highly coded implicit and left me, not only to appreciate the reason could be, but also to act accordingly. However, my academic supervisor seams to follow a “low –Context culture” who uses language primarily to express her thoughts and ideas clearly and logically as possible (Adler,1996,p.47). She was swift in declaring her intention. She was direct and asked for our CVs and qualifications and immediately took a decision.
I realized that by working with this principal (who admires people only as per their age) we will be force as a team to follow the matter of Achievement vs. Ascriptionher decision of choosing the elder teacher is representing the Ascription dimension in Trompenaar’s study, on the other hand, the academic supervisor is representing the Achievement diminution as she searched for the most effective member in the team and chose her because of skills and abilities regardless to age.
Another situation that expresses Her behavior as a very High Power Distance. This term refers to the attitudes toward differences in authority (Adler, 1996,p.50) and I believe that our society considered as high power distance because people in our society accepted that the power is distinguished unfairly among people and some people has great influence than other (1996,p.47) and that was when she has given a decision without which is based on her personal conclusion that elder employees must perform better than juniors which was expressed in her first meeting, till this moment I thought that this idea was only an impression and can be change as per situations or individuals but what has proved that it is a belief when she opposes the sentiment of my academic supervisor with no hesitation, by that time only, it was clear that I am attempting to change a culture and not only a point of view. Actually, my reaction toward her decision the silence and acceptance for what she said is representing the high power distance and my fear about my yearly appraisal marks.
We can also realize in her behavior a clear high Uncertainty Avoidance. Uncertainty about future, fear of change which create hierarchical structures of the organization should be clear and respectable (Hofstede,1984,p.132) which is proved by her refusing to do any changes without formal request and prior permeation from the educational zone, this became also clear in her behavior when she toured around the place to make sure that everything is running as per her well. Her fear of the unknown and surprising leads her to take the decision of chose the elder employee with the highest practical experience to be the coordinator. While we can see the (low Uncertainty Avoidance) approach in the academic supervisor’s behavior, (the one who spent her life in USA and represent the US society) by giving priority to effectiveness over age accordingly suggesting my promotion. This low Uncertainty Avoidance as Hofsted said,” is an indication of the society that has fewer rules and doesn’t care for all outcomes and results”.(الموقع)
On the other hand, and with reference to the approach of the American Educated Supervisor, we can explain her behavior as a Long Term Orientation “as she suggests my promotion. Long term versus short term orientation is related to the choice of focus for people’s effort, the future or the present “(Hofstede, 2001,p.29) . Also her collectivism actions can be seen very clear in her focus on our belonging to an organization and the possibility to add positive ideas to the system on the contrary with the principle that focused on individual initiative and achievement or elder employees.
My reaction toward the principal decision in the meeting; was actually part of our culture which is (collectivism) and this Hofsted’s dimension “have tight social from work in which members of group are supposed to care for each other and for group” (Adler,1996,p.49) Because In collectivist cultures, a person’s identity is connected with the group, so they’re more likely to favor promoting group harmony than expressing their contrary personal opinion. Which appeared also in my personal behavior when I refuse the promotion and when I hide my surprise for not being odd or strange among my colleagues.
Regardless to culture or personal intentions, justness in dealing with people should take place with no exceptions especially in workplaces so Gender, Age, handicap, etc… should be excluded completely from the formula. The “Universalism” approach has also confirmed this fact and expressed that rules should be applies equally to the whole universe of members and it is used to determine what is right, and contracts should not be altered. The “Achievement” approach as well confirms this fact and explains that credibility is given to an individual as a person rather than with a title or position.
After all these inflections, is it really required to change cultures to have better future and better results? Based on the above, the answer seems to be “YES” for insuring best performance and having more professional outcomes! As we expressed, it is very difficult to abandon cultures and frankly, we should not attempt to do it aggressively! Generally, culture is rooted in communities and shapes its attitude, links generations, explains approaches and even the way of life, culture is acting as a safety valve form any unsolicited ethics coming from abroad, it also shapes the identity of nations and gives them their unique character. Accordingly it is not wise to discard all its corners and reject all its contents as it will affect the skeleton of the society, cultures are also linking generations gathers everyone around the same aims and through the same directions. So it is recommended to change attitudes and not culture, we can make efforts to show people the other side of the coin but not changing currency, we should not attempt to replace elder people, we should train them to follow the latest technology, and expose them to the modern ways of doing business. I expect that if the principle will be attending training courses or workshops in “Motivation” as an example, she would have changed her attitude and approach towards me, if she was taught how to be a Leader and not a Manager, she would have affected my emotions accordingly my behavior and attracted me to her side and this what has exactly happened with my supervisor, she is almost the same age of the principal and also having the same nationality but she is a American educated person who is exposed to a different kind of education and training, no doubt that the American culture has affected her to a certain extend but still she is very well sticked to our norms and this makes me respect her much more.
We should choose what is useful to us from other cultures and hybrid it with ours and by that time only, will get benefits from every side. I am not blaming the principle for her attitude and I will still try to convince her with my point of view.
is presently held by young people, not only that, this tread become the common policy of rulers to give the chance to the new generation to startup and set future planes.
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