In a prior post I mentioned that my wife and I have been focused on writing 2 e-books for expats coming to Jamaica.
As a part of that effort, we have been asking for and receiving input on what information expats have been looking for to help them make the transition.
Apparently, there are very few companies that are doing much to assist their employees, and as I mentioned in a prior issue of FirstCuts called “Expats of the Caribbean,” companies often underestimate the cultural transition that must be made.
Hopefully, if the the e-book makes it to completion, it will help companies do a better job of preparing the way for their expats.
In the meantime, if you are an expat who is coming to Jamaica, you can give us input on the kind of information you are looking for, of were looking for at some point. Either leave me a comment, or send me some email.
In last month’s issue of FirstCuts entitled “Expats of the Caribbean” I wrote about how companies need to do more to prepare themselves to be successful in bringing in expats.
With the advent of CSME and globalization, there are going to be more expats moving around the region, taking jobs in different countries. The burden of ensuring their successful transition lies in the HR departments in each country.
Unfortunately, most of them are ill-equipped to assist expats make the transition (a few have not evolved from being personnel departments themselves.)
They simply don’t have the programmes in place to deal with the cultural transition that an expat must make, and many of them hardly understand the nature of the problem.
The fact is, they need to acquaint themselves with the nature of the programmes that their company needs, and will need to deliver increasingly effective solutions to what is bound to be a growing challenge.
Don’t expats have it easy? They get the best of everything: higher salaries, better benefits and special treatment all around. In our small island homes, we have no idea what it takes for an outsider to transition to live in our own culture, and our ignorance is costing us dearly.
Read or listen in to the latest issue of FirstCuts to see what your Caribbean company could be doing differently now.
Please leave your comments on this issue below.
At the recent HRMATT Biennial Conference in Port-of-Spain, I presented the findings of the study “The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica”. The podcast/audio can be downloaded from:
The presentation that accompanies the slides can be viewed by clicking below:
Roger Bell is the General Manager of Confectionery & Snacks (Jamaica,) a subsidiary of Associated Brands (Trinidad). He has found success in leading a Jamaican company, in a country that he had never visited before assuming the post.
He has spent the last four years running a Jamaican company, and learning a lot about what works, vs. what doesn’t
In this podcast, I interviewed Roger in his offices in Spanish Town and he shares some of what he has learned in his personal crash programme.
To receive the report, send email to email@example.com.
Coming back to work in the Caribbean has meant getting used to using words of endearment that professionals in developed countries have long eschewed, including “honey”, “sweetheart”, “darling” and “babes”, and even male versions such as “boy” and “man.”
As a professional working in the U.S., I learned long ago that such words are to be completely and entirely avoided. The professional women who took me under their wings when I was a fledgling employee made sure that I learned my lesson in this regard (thank you Mary, Beverly, Kandi, Celeste, Janice…).
I also learned the importance of the firm handshake as a form of generic greeting in the workplace. The rules were dicey back then about how male to be, as I remember a colleague of mine pointing out that I needn’t hold open the door for her, as she certainly was not interested in being treated any differently from the men around me.
Working in the Caribbean is quite different. Warmth and friendship is felt in the embrace of a boss, friendship in a familiar greeting and respect in how we introduce each other to friends and colleagues.
This all takes some getting used to, as these behaviours are exactly the ones I learned to avoid in my early days working at AT&T in New Jersey.
While I do not want to offend, I don’t miss for one minute that cautious feeling I knew in the U.S. workplace, darkened by threats of sexual harassment, racial prejudice and politically incorrect behaviour. My hope is that we in the Caribbean can learn to be sensitive to others preferences, without having to become fearful and paralysed by the threat of a lawsuit.
A 2 part-series I wrote was recently published in the Trinidad Newsday newspaper, on the topic of “Why T&T bosses Get into Trouble in Jamaica.”
The articles can be found at the links listed below:
Week #1 – Rough Resistance
Week #2 – T&T Arrogance vs. Jamaican Angst
Both articles appear courtesy of Guardian Life’s Business View series of columns.
The outputs from the HRMATT conference from my speech on “The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica” can be received by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both the PowerPoint presentation and the audio from the speech can be accessed through the email.
1. Send email to email@example.com and wait a few minutes
2. Follow the instructions and click on the confirmation email
3. The email with the information should be received within a few minutes
Here is a link to an article I wrote for Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday, on the topic of Trinidadian Executives in Jamaica.
This is actually part 1 in the 2 part series.
My interview this week was recorded and is now available for your listening pleasure in two parts at http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=hrmatt.
I was being interviewed in relation to the speech I gave on “The Trinidadian Executive in Jamaica” at the recently concluded HRMATT 2007 Biennial Conference in Port of Spain.