Thursday, December 20, 2007

Taiwan's Impotent Workforce (part 2)

Exhibit B:
Camaraderie is defined as goodwill or fellowship between friends, brotherhood, if you will.

Perhaps this word should be injected into the lexicon of Taiwanese workplaces. I know I know, it's an English word and this is a Chinese-speaking culture...I couldn't find the Chinese equivalent, just bear with me.

An essential part of a healthy workplace is open discourse amongst those who you work closest to. To be able to speak your mind to your coworkers and get their feedback without fear of recourse from the boss. Those closest to you are probably experiencing many of the same things and it's often a chance to allow someone to commiserate and/or help you solve a problem. Often times it's petty stuff and one just wants to vent a little, harmless crap.

I have always held that the issues you discuss with your coworkers are tacitly considered to be privy to you and your compatriots, not your superiors.

This is sadly not the case in my experiences here in Taiwan. Anything that is said amongst you and those that surround you will be mysteriously relayed to your boss. The prevailing justification I have heard for this is company loyalty. Folks here think it's more important to rat out a disgruntled employee than to foster a sense of brotherhood in the workplace. Rather than examine the situation, they score brownie points with the boss.

This amounts to an atmosphere is distrust and division.

Perhaps this is an American-centric view of what it means to be an employee in a work environment? I have always felt that the employees of a company are sort of a team. Your workmates are there to support you and act as a buffer between you and management. The bosses are not your enemy per se, but they certainly are not your friends when it comes down to the bottom line. Your coworkers are supposed to be the folks backing you up, an extension of each individual.

As I am sure you can tell by the above blathering, I have been victimized more than once by a teammate. It's horribly deflating when it does occur. Thriving in an atmosphere when I have to worry about those closest to me stabbing me in the back is disheartening, to say the least.

The great Mother Jones once said, "We must be together; our masters are joined together and we must do the same thing."


MJ Klein said...

David, you will never understand our culture.... how many times have you heard this? you are trying to change the course of a mighty river. never, in a millions years, if the Moon plunges into the sea, or the Earth spirals into the sun, will any Taiwanese worker ever side with other employees against the Boss, even if he is wrong. the workplace is a place of fear David. this fear ensures that the workers hop to whatever bullshit assignment is given to them. yes, the Taiwanese boss doesn't care if you respect him - he wants you to be afraid of him. ordinary people earn respect. bosses are to be feared.

David said...

You are absolutely right MJ. It's a screwed up situation. It doesn't make for a terribly congenial office. I guess I don't have much of a chance to climb the corporate ladder here because I speak my mind and I am not afraid.

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