New York working culture shocks #4: Tell me what to do

Moving across the Atlantic from Hamburg (Germany) to New York City (USA) in June 2019 was an adventure all in itself. After living here for about 1 year and 4 months now, it feels right to look back and record some of my experiences. One of the biggest changes has been: Working in New York City.


Disclaimer
This is my personal experience relating to my specific company in New York. I am not trying to make any generalizations or criticize New York or even the US in general. Instead of thinking in the terms of better or worse, I like to think of things being different without putting any connotation to it.

Tell me what to do

With some colleagues, I learned that they wanted (or needed) instructions to a level of detail that surprised me. My German colleagues down to our working students and interns had always spoiled me with a high level of proactiveness and willingness to figure things out along the way. They just needed a general target to aim for and knew that it was okay to find their personal way to reach it. In our New York office on the other hand, I learned the hard way that if I did not spell the task ahead out step by step, integral parts would not get done until I gave instructions for them.

An attempt to understand the dependence

When it comes to need for detailed instruction, I mainly attribute this to the education system. As you might know, most tests in (public) US schools are multiple choice. Unless they have a great teacher who makes the effort to teach beyond answers A, B, C or D, students are not required to think ahead and outside the box. The system does not require you to think critically and find a solution. You just need to follow the instructions and know (or guess) the right answer).


This is my personal experience relating to my specific company in New York. I am not trying to make any generalizations or criticize New York or even the US in general. Instead of thinking in the terms of better or worse, I like to think of things being different without putting any connotation to it.

I truly believe that it is a privilege to have the opportunity to dive into a culture and learn more about how things are done in another country then my own. No country or culture is perfect. And by experiencing others, we get to learn and analyze what we personally admire, cherish and want to incorporate into our own way of life. So if you stay open to it, there is so much potential for growth hidden right in front of you.

How about you?
Did you ever transfer to a different work culture? How did your new colleagues handle direction?

Cover picture shows the Fearless Girl in Manhattan, New York (USA) and was taken in Mar 2020

Missing the beginning of this story?
New York working culture shocks #1: How did I get here

3 thoughts on “New York working culture shocks #4: Tell me what to do

Add yours

  1. While I grew up with the US school system and acknowledge the limitations on its classroom instruction, my experience of teaching in France demonstrated that the French school system isn’t any better in teaching critical thinking than the US. I think all school systems– European, American, Asian– have their flaws, but as long as one (regardless of nationality) makes the effort to learn on their own and develop their own critical thinking skills, it makes up for the inadequacy of formal schooling in the long run.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear it. It might be company or field of work specific – most of my colleagues are sales managers 😂 I have also heard that you can see differences between people that went to public school and private school as well a regular college vs. Ivy league.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: