workplace culture

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Workplace Culture

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  • Western/Northwestern/RCH Alliance

  • AimsBe aware of the importance of cultureBe able to identify cultural barriers to communicationLearn strategies to overcome these barriersDevelop cultural competence

  • CultureA pattern of ideas, rules, values, beliefs, habitsAcquired through interactions with peopleInfluenced by age, gender, family, economic status, personality, experience, career, etcProvide a value systemDynamic: evolving over timeDifficult to define!

  • Cultural AwarenessThe ability to recognize your own cultural values, and those of other culturesBeing respectful and open-mindedAvoidance of stereotypingSensitivity to culturally-specific needs

    Note: awareness can be a passive process

  • Cultural CompetenceThe ability to maintain positive outcomes in cross-cultural encountersIt is an active processRequires attitude, knowledge and experience

  • DifficultiesIt is normal to feel stressed, overwhelmed, misunderstood, or threatened when facing people from an unfamiliar cultureThings which seem logical to them will make no sense to youYou may find yourself being stereotyped, or be tempted to stereotype themCulture is complex

  • Cultural DimensionsAll cultures lie betweenthese two extremes of valueIndividualismEqualityGender indifferenceShades of greyShort-term values

    CollectivismHierarchyGender differentiationBlack and whiteLong-term values

  • Individualism versus CollectivismIndividualismCollectivismPrivacyRightsPersonal ResponsibilityPersonal choiceLoyaltyFriendlinessPart of a groupSocial obligationsWhere does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?Where does your own culture lie?

  • Power DistanceEqualityHierarchySocial welfareSocialising is casual, lack of rulesEqual rights for all groupsUnequal distribution of wealth, status and powerRigid rules governing social behaviourWhere does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?Where does your own culture lie?

  • Gender DifferentiationMale / Female DistinctionGender IndifferenceMen and women take on different, and non-interchangeable rolesAffects clothing, language, behaviours, sometimes rightsMen and women are seen as equivalent in terms of roles they can take onGender does not define how you behaveWhere does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?Where does your own culture lie?

  • Tolerance for UncertaintyBlack and WhiteShades of GreyBelief in absolutesRules and regulationsRisk avoidanceOften single viewpointNo ultimate truthAnarchisticRisk takingMultiple perspectivesWhere does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?Where does your own culture lie?

  • Time frameShort-term valuesLong-term orientationRapidly changingInnovationsTodays problems are more important than those in 50 years timeTradition and stabilityDislike of changeConservativeMakes sacrifices for long-term gainWhere does Australia lie on this cultural dimension?Where does your own culture lie?

  • Australian Culture/CommunicationVerbal communicationDirect, to the pointBrevity versus decorationInterrupting a speakerDifference of opinionUse of humourEmotions

  • Australian Culture/CommunicationNon-verbal communicationFacial expressionEye contactGesturesTouch and personal spaceDegree of emotion

  • Australian Culture/CommunicationWritten CommunicationLogicalLinearComprehensive

  • Australian Culture / Sense of TimeMonochronic time senseStrictly punctualAttention is given to the current taskInterruptions are avoided

    Polychronic time senseTimetables and schedules are less important than other obligations

  • Australian Culture / Approach to Illness and DeathDenial of illness and deathMuch effort spent on avoiding itLack of acceptance of ones fate

  • Australian Culture / Legal Issues in the WorkplaceEqual opportunityMulticulturalismConsentConfidentialityBoundaries to sexual advancesFormal complaints procedure

  • Specific Issues for doctors working in AustraliaAlcoholSexuality - attitudes and behavioursAboriginal healthMental healthAgeing and community care

  • Your InputWhat have you experienced?Problems with cross-cultural encounters? Misunderstanding or being misunderstood?Surprising elements of Australian culture?Stereotyping or pre-formed opinions?Interesting differences between cultures?

    Australia is moderately more individualistic than collectivist.*Australia has one of the lowest power distances of any country. Similar to New Zealand.This means that there is open communication between supervisors and staff.Also note that lower level staff (cleaners, orderlies, secretaries) are treated as equals by senior consultants.*Australian workplace culture is moderately indifferent to gender. Scandinavian countries are more indifferent.*Australian culture is moderately tolerant of uncertainty.*Australian culture is relatively short-term orientated.*Australians think of themselves as direct, plain, and blunt in their communication. However, in reality, they will avoid being direct when giving an order, and they perceive direct orders as rude.While a brief exchange of pleasantries is common, workers show respect by not wasting each others time, so keep their communications professional and economical.Interrupting a speaker is usually unacceptable.Expressing a difference of opinion is said to be encouraged, however, many Australians sadly have difficulty in separating a difference of opinion from a personal attack. Therefore disagreeing with someone needs to be handled tactfully.Humour is used frequently, except where it could be seen as hurtful. It can be used to indicate friendliness, equality; defuse a tense situation, or even to show respect.Australians in general prefer to minimize both the range and strength of the emotions they display. They will assume that other people do this as well, so any emotions you display will be interpreted as being even stronger.*Australian workplace culture is rigidly monochronic, with strict adherence to schedules.However, in medical workplace culture, doctors are frequently obliged to attend to an urgent, and unexpected situation, therefore it is slightly more acceptable that they can be late to meetings, clinics, etc. However, people can also perceive this as arrogance on the part of the medical community.*Teamwork approach while not a legal issue, this is an important workplace cultural issue. In some but not all cases, team decisions are seen as being more efficient than orders from the top of a hierarchy.*