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Ian

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9

As a new joiner, how to earn seniors' respect, instead of being too obedient?

I have grown up in China, received my college education there, and did my MBA in Europe. I realized that my education in China has taught me to be "obedient", "humble", and not encouraged to challenge other's views. The learning experience is more about passively receiving information from lectures, and I would say the education system in Japan and Korea is also quite similar.

After I started working for a US firm in China, I realized that my working habits would backfire me in this company that values "aggressiveness". I find myself always "over humbled", "over-polite", and afraid of defending my views when my manager disagrees. I want to form a closer relationship with my seniors, befriending them instead of treating them like "respectable elders". As a new joiner, I don't lack the confidence to stick to my own views and challenge my seniors.

Another senior told me that in order to earn respect, I need to fight for my own views and be "tougher" instead of "obedient". Also, I need to treat my line manager as a friend, instead of being "too respectful", to develop a closer relationship. Could anyone provide some advice on how could I improve these points? I feel that my education and background has influenced me a lot, so it's a bit of twist to change my working habit. Thanks a lot.

I have grown up in China, received my college education there, and did my MBA in Europe. I realized that my education in China has taught me to be "obedient", "humble", and not encouraged to challenge other's views. The learning experience is more about passively receiving information from lectures, and I would say the education system in Japan and Korea is also quite similar.

After I started working for a US firm in China, I realized that my working habits would backfire me in this company that values "aggressiveness". I find myself always "over humbled", "over-polite", and afraid of defending my views when my manager disagrees. I want to form a closer relationship with my seniors, befriending them instead of treating them like "respectable elders". As a new joiner, I don't lack the confidence to stick to my own views and challenge my seniors.

Another senior told me that in order to earn respect, I need to fight for my own views and be "tougher" instead of "obedient". Also, I need to treat my line manager as a friend, instead of being "too respectful", to develop a closer relationship. Could anyone provide some advice on how could I improve these points? I feel that my education and background has influenced me a lot, so it's a bit of twist to change my working habit. Thanks a lot.

(edited)

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Book a coaching with Ian

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Ah. In the US we say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, while in China they say the loudest goose get shot :)

First, be careful not to overcorrect

Aggressiveness, becoming "friends" with your boss, and challenging others' views can easily backfire.

1) You can counter and test someone's statement / idea, but do so respectfully. If they insist, back away. In particular, if your boss asks you to do something, ultimately you do it (you can raise a few considerations, but do not refuse to do the work)

2) Do engage in small talk and do agree to grab drinks, dinner, etc. with those more senior than you. However, don't become too friendly and reveal too much about yourself (i.e. personal life, complain about work / other people, treat them like an equal (especially in front of the client). There is always a line you should not cross, not matter how "friendly" the relationship becomes

In summary:

Challenge but don't be obstinate

Be "strong" but ultimately take orders when they're given

Be friendly but don't assume they're your friend

Develop relationships, but always understand they're work relationships

Ah. In the US we say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, while in China they say the loudest goose get shot :)

First, be careful not to overcorrect

Aggressiveness, becoming "friends" with your boss, and challenging others' views can easily backfire.

1) You can counter and test someone's statement / idea, but do so respectfully. If they insist, back away. In particular, if your boss asks you to do something, ultimately you do it (you can raise a few considerations, but do not refuse to do the work)

2) Do engage in small talk and do agree to grab drinks, dinner, etc. with those more senior than you. However, don't become too friendly and reveal too much about yourself (i.e. personal life, complain about work / other people, treat them like an equal (especially in front of the client). There is always a line you should not cross, not matter how "friendly" the relationship becomes

In summary:

Challenge but don't be obstinate

Be "strong" but ultimately take orders when they're given

Be friendly but don't assume they're your friend

Develop relationships, but always understand they're work relationships

(edited)

Awesome advice:) — Anonymous A on Jun 09, 2020

Glad to be able to help :) — Ian on Jun 09, 2020

Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi there,

I would recommend the following:

  • Be open with your boss with the challenge you are having due to your previous education and show you are open to adapt to the company culture – this will help him/her to understand better your issue
  • Ask for feedback regularly to your boss, and ask him to tell you specifically what he would recommend to work on – he/she will probably be happy to give you specific suggestions
  • Pay attention to the general behavior of your peers and manager. If needed, review such behavior with your manager if you believe it is too aggressive. Once you have a green light from his/her side, try to implement the best practices you observed from your side.

If you haven’t read it already, I would also recommend How to win friends and influence people which in general is a great book to understand how to communicate with others.

Hope this helps,
Francesco

Hi there,

I would recommend the following:

  • Be open with your boss with the challenge you are having due to your previous education and show you are open to adapt to the company culture – this will help him/her to understand better your issue
  • Ask for feedback regularly to your boss, and ask him to tell you specifically what he would recommend to work on – he/she will probably be happy to give you specific suggestions
  • Pay attention to the general behavior of your peers and manager. If needed, review such behavior with your manager if you believe it is too aggressive. Once you have a green light from his/her side, try to implement the best practices you observed from your side.

If you haven’t read it already, I would also recommend How to win friends and influence people which in general is a great book to understand how to communicate with others.

Hope this helps,
Francesco

Dear A,

Of course, it's hard to judge in general, especially without knowing your particular situation. But what comes up to my mind:

1. You need to focus on yourself. So respecting others come from respecting yourself. This is the key skill that I recommend you to develop - understand how valuable you as a personality really are.

2. Treat others as equals. Not as your bosses and not as your subordinates , but as equal persons to you and build a trustful relationship over time.

3. Work on your convincing and communication skills, so you need to learn how to argument, contrargument and defend your own opinion without becoming too arogant.

So the balance is pretty tricky.

I would be very happy to know more about your specific situation and if you need any help in becoming more convincing and build trustful relationships with others in order to manage them, feel free to reach out.

Happy to help you,

Good luck,

André

Dear A,

Of course, it's hard to judge in general, especially without knowing your particular situation. But what comes up to my mind:

1. You need to focus on yourself. So respecting others come from respecting yourself. This is the key skill that I recommend you to develop - understand how valuable you as a personality really are.

2. Treat others as equals. Not as your bosses and not as your subordinates , but as equal persons to you and build a trustful relationship over time.

3. Work on your convincing and communication skills, so you need to learn how to argument, contrargument and defend your own opinion without becoming too arogant.

So the balance is pretty tricky.

I would be very happy to know more about your specific situation and if you need any help in becoming more convincing and build trustful relationships with others in order to manage them, feel free to reach out.

Happy to help you,

Good luck,

André

(edited)

Book a coaching with Axel

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Hi Anonymous

I have a few suggestions here:

1. Make sure to deliver high-quality work and become known for getting things done with high quality and on time. At the end of the day, this will be the most important thing to gain respect.

2. I would suggest trying to be open with your seniors about the problem you are facing. Having lived in Asia I know that this is a very hard thing to do but opening up will also help you deepen the relationship with your coworkers.

3. Ask for regular feedback on how you are progressing against your goals.

Over time if you work in a different environment some level of assimilation will happen anyways but if you want to fast track it, I would suggest the approach above!

-A

Hi Anonymous

I have a few suggestions here:

1. Make sure to deliver high-quality work and become known for getting things done with high quality and on time. At the end of the day, this will be the most important thing to gain respect.

2. I would suggest trying to be open with your seniors about the problem you are facing. Having lived in Asia I know that this is a very hard thing to do but opening up will also help you deepen the relationship with your coworkers.

3. Ask for regular feedback on how you are progressing against your goals.

Over time if you work in a different environment some level of assimilation will happen anyways but if you want to fast track it, I would suggest the approach above!

-A

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Hello!

Indeed it´s a great example of how culture shapes totally who we are, also in the working enviroment! Thanks for sharing

In this case, I would:

  1. Be very open with my manager and co-workers and ask or their help and input
  2. Schedule regular feedbacks with people from your confidence
  3. Even look for a mentor, someone you admire in this regard who can coach you

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Indeed it´s a great example of how culture shapes totally who we are, also in the working enviroment! Thanks for sharing

In this case, I would:

  1. Be very open with my manager and co-workers and ask or their help and input
  2. Schedule regular feedbacks with people from your confidence
  3. Even look for a mentor, someone you admire in this regard who can coach you

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello,

when we talk about culture it is never easy to change quickly, and it is important not to forget that you are going to bring something unique and therefore rich.

Many consulting firms offer trainings on communication, and call on specialist communication coaches to help consultants improve. Maybe check with your training department to see what they can do?

Best,

David

Hello,

when we talk about culture it is never easy to change quickly, and it is important not to forget that you are going to bring something unique and therefore rich.

Many consulting firms offer trainings on communication, and call on specialist communication coaches to help consultants improve. Maybe check with your training department to see what they can do?

Best,

David

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Hi, in addition to the great advices of the other coaches I want only to add of remaining yourself. Aggressiveness will not pay in the long run, only improve little by little your self confidence, by knowing that you add value on the table. Always. And the fact that you have been admitted in investment banking and consulting - the most selective industries in the world - is the proof you have all the skills to be there.

Best,
Antonello

Hi, in addition to the great advices of the other coaches I want only to add of remaining yourself. Aggressiveness will not pay in the long run, only improve little by little your self confidence, by knowing that you add value on the table. Always. And the fact that you have been admitted in investment banking and consulting - the most selective industries in the world - is the proof you have all the skills to be there.

Best,
Antonello

Hi,

Knowing that you should improve in a specific element is already a sucess. In fact you are in the process of fixing this, just by acknowleging it. In order to keep improving, I would advise the following:

  1. Inform your Career Develomment Advisor about this and seek help from him/her. I would also recommend that you get closer to your Learning & Development Manager or Mentor/Sponsor to voice this concern. I am sure they will want to support you and they might offer some coaching/training sessions to overcome this.
  2. Talk to your Project Leader (Engagement Manager) and ask for advice on this particular point. The project leader can be your best ally if you want to build a strong relationship with the Partners. He/she might offer you the opportunity to speak up in particular forums so that you train yourself to overcome this situation.
  3. Watch how your senior peers manage their relationships with the top management. Partners might have different approaches to this: some love to get closer to their teams, while others prefer to keep the distance, so beware of those differences.

Learning those cultural habits is like learning a new language, so give it time and try to have fun :)

Mehdi

Hi,

Knowing that you should improve in a specific element is already a sucess. In fact you are in the process of fixing this, just by acknowleging it. In order to keep improving, I would advise the following:

  1. Inform your Career Develomment Advisor about this and seek help from him/her. I would also recommend that you get closer to your Learning & Development Manager or Mentor/Sponsor to voice this concern. I am sure they will want to support you and they might offer some coaching/training sessions to overcome this.
  2. Talk to your Project Leader (Engagement Manager) and ask for advice on this particular point. The project leader can be your best ally if you want to build a strong relationship with the Partners. He/she might offer you the opportunity to speak up in particular forums so that you train yourself to overcome this situation.
  3. Watch how your senior peers manage their relationships with the top management. Partners might have different approaches to this: some love to get closer to their teams, while others prefer to keep the distance, so beware of those differences.

Learning those cultural habits is like learning a new language, so give it time and try to have fun :)

Mehdi

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Hi Anonymous,

On top of what was already said.

Your respect will be in direct relation with the work you did behind the scenes. Nobody will respect you for your opinions and views, but for facts and compelling cases you make. So if you do your homework and you have a compelling case, you will earn a lot of respect over time.

And yes, it's a process, not a one-off thing to do :-)

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

On top of what was already said.

Your respect will be in direct relation with the work you did behind the scenes. Nobody will respect you for your opinions and views, but for facts and compelling cases you make. So if you do your homework and you have a compelling case, you will earn a lot of respect over time.

And yes, it's a process, not a one-off thing to do :-)

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

Thanks Robert, could you clarify " facts and compelling cases you make"? Thanks! — Anonymous A on Jun 10, 2020