Saturday, January 19, 2008

Can your boss be your buddy?

We were having a discussion in the class, and I raised this question which received many feedback later especially from the French.

Since I have never worked in French before, I can only compare the experience I have as a girlfriend/wife in observing the corporate culture in my husband company both in the USA and France.

It started with the annual dinner. Gosh what a huge different. The one in USA, all the big guys in the company came with their wife, kids and I got to introduce to so many people. While in France, all the big boss didn't come, but company representative who was responsible to organize company event. As for Malaysia, where I worked, the boss came with his wife.

Already, this give an image that the bosses do care to share an evening with you. Company events/outing was always interesting for me, as I get to know co-workers or bosses that I have been working with but never met. And some of the miss-understanding got resolved just by talking to that person face in face.

I gave an example that in Malaysia, company pays for the employees to go sing karaoke, as a measure to relax, and sometimes the big bosses join in. Of course, you won't be buddy with them, but the more occasion like this, the more you get to know each other, and the easier the communication goes.

As for my own working experience, my bosses in USA were very open minded, basically they gave me impression that they will be there if I need to talk or help, of course based on their ability. Many times over lunch (paid by the boss), company outing, I was more at ease to say stuffs to boss than in the office. The bosses manage to accumulate feedback more easily through informal occasions.

Well, some of my classmates said they start seeing this in France, but the French still have the mentality that after work, they don't want to do anything with the company. After work it is family time.

What do you think? Do you feel these companies outing are useful? Did you manage to speak to your boss about something that you didn't feel comfortable to talk with when you were in the office?


  1. I think the bosses in France take it to the extreme.

    I do believe there is a place for socialize after work hour and I do believe companies that stress the value of "being part of the family" win the heart of workers.

    To me the French way is too aloof.

    I met a few Europeans (Italians, Swiss , Germans and others) who made a remark that the businesses in America is very pro-family.

    One of the European ladies whom I met at our area's playground told me she found it so difficult to bring her child to public business areas in Italy.

    She told me hardly any restaurants in Europe would provide high chairs or baby friendly stuffs to entertain the kids.

    She said whenever she came to America, she felt so nice to be able to bring her kids to any nice restaurants.

    She said restaurants' staff in the US are so accommodating to family setting. The waitress or waiters are so friendly to kids, they provide kids with high chair, small cups for their drinks,crayons, drawing papers, and the kids' louder than average voice would not bring anymore stares.

    She said when she was in Italy, she has to arrange child care with her in laws or parents whenever her spouse and her wanted to have a dine-out in the restaurants.

    She said even in the stop centers along the highway in US , there are pull out infant changing stations and some even provides free diapers and wipes.

    In fact, this lady was born in the states and spent some of her early years in the US while her dad was doing his post doc degree. She said she like to eventually move to the US. When I met her at the play ground, she was visiting friends in Florida with her parents while her husband was doing his Ph.D in Boston.

    When I was in Europe, I was single and I did not notice this kind of service then. But now that I have a small family, this kind of service is very important to me.

    I don't think I would like to make prior arrangement every time I want to dine-out in a nice restaurant.

    I do believe what bosses think and behavior has a relation with how businesses are run.

    I love the working experience in the US. While I was pregnant, my boss even bought me a small stool to put underneath my leg so my leg feel comfortable. And when I gave birth, he was one of my first visitors in the hospitals.

    We have a lot of company lunches together. We do not have fancy lunches in posh restaurants but we have our company lunches in our hospital parks and playgrounds.

    We organized so many hilarious games. One of them were throwing icing cakes on bosses' faces. It was hilarious.

    The hospital I work now even have a company family "pop-corn" night where we show movies on our open ground and we provide "pop-corn" to all the employee's families and every department managers serve the "pop-corn" :).

    I do believe "a family" is one of the common company corporate cultures in the US.

    If given a choice, I choose one where the company culture is pro-family, that means I get to know my bosses' family and vise versa.


  2. Anonymous8:20 PM

    Jamy, is exactly right.

    The way business is run here and in Europe is so totally different.

    I think I like the pro-family and informal approach a lot better. The bosses are also employees, right, so I see no reason for them to behave like they are royalty!

  3. Anonymous9:45 PM

    yea, the ppl in europe tend to differentiate themselves too much via 'classes' or 'statuses'. same goes to malaysia. not all bosses are that nice. some like to put up a show, in order to give u the feeling that "i'm the boss here".

  4. Anonymous3:27 AM

    definately no in Malaysia. Bosses always treat staffs as slaves in Malaysia. What we need to do is to listen to what boss told us to do.. very chinaman one !

  5. Anonymous3:29 AM

    In Malaysia, seldom we can see staffs are buddy of boss. The way the management manage the company is very different compare with foreign country.

    For example, we have to do from 8.30am to 8.00pm everyday to show your hardworking and sacrified to company. In foreign country, we can go home as long as our work done.. right ?

  6. I agreed that Europe is more close minded. But in Malaysia, I do see a trend in imitating the Americans. For small companies, sometimes they act like a big family, travelling together, eating together, always helping each other out.

  7. Hi, here in the UK its way overboard! If you can't drink, then basically you are left out. Lunch hours and after work hours are always in the pub, when I was working, but as an Asian, I can't take too much alcohol, so do miss out on the 'socials'. Bosses are quite good, as far as my industry was concerned.