Difference in Work Culture between India and the US

A friend of mine who moved to the US recently to start a new business had asked about the work culture in the US in comparison to the work culture in India. I gave my thoughts and then realized it is worth posting it here.

india-us

 

Work culture in the US is slightly different from the work culture in India. Please find my views based on my experience managing people in the US for about 15 years:

Uniqueness:

  1. Punctuality: Employees in the US are a lot more punctual. This is one habit you should develop from day one. (In India, no one knows what that means and they have stopped even caring about it!)
  2. Addressing People: Everyone is addressed on a first name basis – no Sir or Madam business. It helps establish equality right from start – which I love.
  3. Family Time: People in the US give high value for family time. This is their number one thought at any point in time – takes higher precedence over anything else in life. (Eg. In India you could ask an employee to skip their kid’s annual day as there is more work load. In the US, such an act would be considered insensitive). If they see you respect their priorities, they will be happier.
  4. Work Hours: In US, employees start early and end early. They will not stay back for any reason. If you ask them to, you better have a very genuine reason and it better be not more than once a year!
  5. Losing the job: People in the US are always scared of losing their job. This is in the back of their minds all the time, as they know that it is difficult find another job and so they will do their best to keep you happy. (In India, due to the booming economy, people really dont care that much). This is one area I do not comment on or discuss with any employee as the equation is maintained well.
  6. Lawsuits: In the US, the laws are very good – helps both the employer and the employees. Be aware of what you speak and what you write. Anything and everything can be used against you in the court of law. Eg1. you can never insult an employee in the US – not a word of profanity. (In India, you can say whatever you want as long as you are the boss – horrible!) Eg2. be racially sensitive – you can never call some one a ‘White’ or ‘Black’ or ‘Mexican’ – those are considered offensive. (In India, at all levels, money talks – in the US, at small business levels, lawsuits talk!)

Maintain your style – your trademark smile – that will protect you from everything.

Similarities:

  1. Do the right thing: As long as you do the right thing, you will always be happy with your employees.
  2. Exploiting Your Weakness: In both locations, people will try to exploit your weakness. This is human nature. If you keep bending, they will keep exploiting. Be aware of this, give them all the trust they deserve, but keep looking for patterns – if you feel they are taking you for a ride, 99% of the time, chances are that they are.
  3. Treat people exactly the way you want to be treated – and be consistent and firm in your words and action and you will be fine.
  4. Position of Strength: Always operate from a position of strength.

Hope that helps.

5 Comments

  1. Uniqueness:

    Punctuality: Employees in the US are a lot more punctual. This is one habit you should develop from day one. (In India, no one knows that that means and they have stopped even caring about it!)

    Punctuality:
    agree

    Addressing People: Everyone is addressed on a first name basis – no Sir or Madam business. It helps establish equality right from start – which I love.

    Addressing People:
    I believe it creates the Illusion that the employee is a friend and management really cares. Which is More Often Than Not A Ploy To Try To Instill Loyalty In An Employee And Give Them A False Sense Of Security. Mental Manipulation For Corporate Gain.

    Family Time: People in the US give high value for family time. This is their number one thought at any point in time – takes higher precedence over anything else in life. (Eg. In India you could ask an employee to skip their kid’s annual day as there is more work load. In the US, such an act would be considered insensitive). If they see you respect their priorities, they will be happier.

    Family Time:
    Agree Family First!

    Work Hours: In US, employees start early and end early. They will not stay back for any reason. If you ask them to, you better have a very genuine reason and it better be not more than once a year!

    Work Hours:
    DisAgree as You Know We Worked Long Hours. In Fact You Know I Almost Lost My Life In A Motorcycle Accident and I was Penalized For Taking The Time Off To Heal. I followed Their Rules To A Tee As Far As Lost Time Is Concerned.

    Losing the job: People in the US are always scared of losing their job. This is in the back of their minds all the time, as they know that it is difficult find another job and so they will do their best to keep you happy. (In India, due to the booming economy, people really dont care that much). This is one area I do not comment on or discuss with any employee as the equation is maintained well.

    Losing the job:
    Some People Have This Attitude…. I Am No Lamb…. I Fear Nothing That Walk, Crawls Or Flies The Face Of The Earth!

    Lawsuits: In the US, the laws are very good – helps both the employer and the employees. Be aware of what you speak and what you write. Anything and everything can be used against you in the court of law. Eg1. you can never insult an employee in the US – not a word of profanity. (In India, you can say whatever you want as long as you are the boss – horrible!) Eg2. be racially sensitive – you can never call some one a ‘White’ or ‘Black’ or ‘Mexican’ – those are considered offensive. (In India, at all levels, money talks – in the US, at small business levels, lawsuits talk!)

    Lawsuits:
    Most Laws In The US Benefit The Major Corporations. There are a lot of States In The US That Are Classified As “Right To Work States” Meaning They Can Fire You WithOut A Valid Reason And The Employee Has No Recourse.

    Maintain your style: your trademark smile – that will protect you from everything.

    Maintain your style:
    Be UpRight & Righteous And You Will Have No Worries!

    The Only True FreeMan Is The One Who Follows His Bliss & Meets Life’s Challenges!

    NaMasTe!

  2. Milford, I liked this phrase of yours the most: “I Fear Nothing That Walk, Crawls Or Flies The Face Of The Earth!”

    My clarifications on some of your other points below:

    1. Staying Late Hours: Working long hours out of passion is what we did and it is completely different from staying late hours every single day because you are scared your boss would not like it if you leave by 6pm.

    2. Corporations: I can see your view where you feel the corporations have the upper hand. Imagine a situation where it is 100% biased towards the corporations all the time – that is how many organizations work in India.

  3. Staying Late Hours:
    Agree for Yourself and I it was passion other;s it was because of as you say fear.

    Corporations:
    I have no knowledge of corporate / business life in India. I guess corporate / business life in India wouldn’t be a good mix for me nor the corporation, 🙂

    Great WriteUp Syed! I was just responding as Corporate Life has taught me. Once Again Great Write Up! You Have A Job For Me In India?

    LOL

  4. #1, 2,3, 4, and probably 6 is very similar to Norway too.
    #1 -I think we lost punctuality gradually. There were days where you could plan to reach a place at 8:00AM and do it. Now there are hundreds of external factors, traffic, metro work, congestion, etc that both the parties fail to make it at the specified time. So they started to care less about it. They still try their best to make it, but don’t succeed 🙂
    #2 – In most of the IT companies in India, that is the case. We address people by their first name. In local companies, it is Good Maarning Saar 😉
    #3 – That’s when ‘As I am suffering from fever’ comes into picture 🙂 The boss cant take the truth, so the employee starts to lie.
    #4 – It all starts with the ‘free’ pizza that we get for staying late at work in our early days, right after college…that continues until it becomes a habit. thereafter that is the expectation irrespective of whether you have a family or not.
    #5 – Of course you can be fired here too, for that you need to be a real dumba$$. Until then the company tries to keep you as a dead weight.
    #6 – Here no point talking about the laws, if you file a suit, probably will get justice along with your pension settlement !

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