Most people describe living and working in Greenland as more ‘relaxed’, in all senses of the word.
So how does one fit into a relaxed environment and still get things done?
Working in a new place is always a bit nerve-wracking, and new challenges are sure to arise when you’re working in a foreign cultural environment. Like anywhere else, a work culture depends on the job, the place and your colleagues.
Since today is the 1st of May, which is International Workers’ Day, I thought I’d start a mini-series about working life and culture in Greenland. (I know I’m stretching the theme a bit, but it’s been on my mind…).
I asked a few people about their experiences with new colleagues from abroad, and what tips one could give to those who not only start a new job, but also a new life in Greenland. Note, most people who move to Greenland come here for a job.
Here are some traits people seemed to stress that one should have if they decide to work in Greenland:
– An open mind –
recognise that things may work differently here
– Patience –
things may run a notch slower than you’re used to
– Tact –
politeness is valued here, as well as a wish not to offend
– Listening skills –
silence is okay in Greenland, plus if you’re not talking you might learn something
– Humility –
Don’t walk in thinking you’re the boss – even if you are 😉
Sounds pretty normal, huh? You might notice that a lot of these values center on a willingness to learn ‘how things work around here’. Everybody hates a know-it-all. Still, one can run into bumps and humps, and this could be because things do not work the way you expect it to in Greenland.
For example, technology is a problem at my work. A whole semester can pass and a guest lecturer may not have access to the system which allows them to print or use the wi-fi. I’ve found that the local guest employees who’ve been here longer just don’t bother asking to get it fixed after the first time, and get their students to login for them. The newer ones ask for a solution. They’re not always successful, even if the friendly IT guys are doing their best to be helpful. Sometimes glitches happen.
That was an easy technical example. When it’s dealing with change management and perception, then the fun and games begin.
Any examples of tips for entering a new workplace in a foreign environment? I imagine the key set of ‘guidelines’ would be very different in another country.
PS I’ve already got a few topic ideas for the next posts in this series including what mistakes you should try to avoid when you’re new. I’ll also give a silly personal example of ‘how the silly foreigner doesn’t know how things work around here’. Or if YOU have a post you want to write, send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org