Hi guys! Welcome to our English Bites! This is Erika Belmonte speaking and this is episode #13. I’m mildly sick and that’s the reason my voice is a little rougher than usual.
I’m just kidding, this is Tuca and I’m Erika’s husband in case you don’t know. Since she is down with the flu she asked me to fill in for her and record this episode.
Oh… in case you need the transcript of this Bite, fire up your browser and go to http://www.clubedoingles.com/englishbites and look for episode #13.
The subject today is about working in the United States. Let’s get to it.
As you might know we moved to the States a couple of years back when I got a job offer and since then I have been learning a lot and I think I have enough to speak to what I feel is different from Brazil.
The first thing one will notice is that American workers are very specialized in their roles. They will usually do only what is in their job description and steer away from unrelated tasks. What I mean by that is that if an American worker is responsible for stamping papers with a stamp that says “A” that’s all they will do. If the guy who stamps “B” misses work because he is sick, chances are that no “B” will be stamped that day. If you ask the first guy he might even do it, but not without complaining a little bit first.
This, in my opinion, is a very strong advantage that Brazilians have over Americans. Brazilians will do anything to get the work done. Even if that means that they have to cook, serve and clean. All at the same time.
On the other hand, it might also be a disadvantage sometimes, because as Brazilians we tend to employ a little more creativity in the work we do and due to that, the results are not always predictable or consistent.
However, I feel that Brazilians and people from Latin America in general are seen as hard workers and easy to work with because of that characteristic. Point for us.
Another aspect that is very interesting is that Americans respect hierarchy a lot! Even if the boss tells a worker to do something he knows to be wrong or won’t provide the best result, they will do it. But just like anything else, it also has two sides. It means that the work output will be very consistent and standardized since the worker will follow the process to the T.
Brazilians, in contrast, have a love relationship with ignoring rules and orders from people up above. Like I said before, we tend to employ creativity and a personal touch in the work we do. When the extra touch is successful it improves the customer experience and might result in a praise or bonus, but that’s not always the case so we need to be careful with that.
As a personal view, I believe that this is one of the reasons that the US is more successful in terms of economy and quality of life than Brazil. When you want to make things work and be good in large scale it helps to follow rules and a predefined process. It also provides consistency and results that are known and expected. The same outcome will be achieved every time, for the good or the bad.
That also makes it easier to improve the system, since you just need to enhance the process everybody is already following and communicate it accordingly.
When the work depends too much on an individual, the output can drastically change if that person is not working that day or if the person leaves the company, you know? Just like when the baker leaves the bakery you like so much and the taste of the bread changes and you go somewhere else to find a new bread to love.
As a last point, there’s something else that I find somewhat incredible and positive and it is the fact that most Americans are grateful to have a job. I don’t know, it just feels different from Brazil. In Brazil it is very easy to find people complaining about their jobs and how little they like it.
Many Brazilian workers will mistreat clients and act like they are doing the customer a favor when in fact it is quite the opposite! This is something unthinkable here and could get you fired on the spot. Most of the time you will be treated very well as a client and nobody will think they are doing you a favor.
In private, they might complain or even hate their work, but they will still be grateful for having a job and being able to put food on the table at the end of the month.
I don’t know if it has any impact or not, but it feels like this positive view of things helps them move forward and make their lives better. I might be wrong, but that’s the impression I got from the people I’m in contact with.
So, that’s it for today. I hope you guys have enjoyed the topic, the different voice and accent and hopefully you will have Erika back on Friday.
Let us know your thoughts about this episode and have a good one! Bye!