In this paper, we will refer to the case study on “Young, Confident and moving Too Fast”, and explore the beliefs and values “root” Joanne and Julia to their individual conceptions of self. I will try to present some suggestions for both Julia and Joanne when working with persons of other generations and finally I will suggest then to use the cultural intelligence principles to resolve the intercultural situation and how they can reduce generalizations and stereotype related to generation.
Keywords: stereotyping, generalization
What beliefs and values “root” Joanne and Julia to their individual conceptions of self?
Here are the facts we need to consider about Julia. Julia is confident young 26 years old, who had graduated from the University of Chicago with her master’s degree in social work. She valued independence and quick to make decisions as we have learned. She was the topper of her class and was the “go-to” person for her classmates and professors for resolving conflicts, coming up with strategic and innovative ways to social work. She was motivated and passionate about social justice and social change issues involving poverty and housing.
We can understand how and why Julia is so confident and motivated. If we examine the facts given to us, her beliefs were well supported by the fact that her professors and classmates highly respected her skills regarding social work. And, she always came up on top in her class and her course. Her passion for social justice, especially poverty and housing could be the reason of her past experiences. Probably she got her values from her own life experiences or cultural background. But we do not know this for sure. But her passion was a great motivator, and this is why she was so driven at her work. When she got her job at a local non-profit, which provides transitional housing to the homeless, Julia wanted to move fast, she wanted to solve every homeless man and woman’s problem as soon as possible.
And here are the facts about Joanne, who was the boss of Julia had different values and beliefs about self. Joanne respected Julia for what Julia was doing. But she was a micromanager. We do not see evidence that Joanne trusted Julia to make the right decision, and she wanted Julia to check with her before making decisions. Joanne never understood that Julia was an independent, motivated and passionate individual. And we see, how Julia works on a presentation for a potential donor, but Joanne excluded Julia from the donor meeting. Joanne had certain beliefs and values, because of which she did not acknowledge or encourage Julia’s passion, motivation and willingness to learn. Moreover, Joanne thought Julia is not capable to learn fast and she needed time otherwise she would make mistake. And she believed as Julia’s superior she knew best what is best for Julia. Joanne, being boss of Julia was right about one fact, that she had more years of experience than Julia did. But her assumption about Julia that Julia is just like how Joanne was, might not be right. We do not see Joanne substantiating her opinions with facts. I believe, her values were absolutely different than Julia’s and that is why she thought, Julia is moving too fast and will make mistake, and moreover, her belief was Julia had the potential to do the job, but she would need time to learn, maybe because she herself was overwhelmed and needed time to learn.
The issue is stereotyping and generalization. Joanne generalized and thought Julia is like anyone else with 2 months experience, and because of Joanne’s generalization and stereotyping she was not being able to appreciate Julia, as a result, Julia felt stuck.
What suggestions do you have for Joanne and Julia when working with persons of other generations?
Joannewho is Julia’s boss needs to put effort to understand Julia better. She needs to understand why Julia is so motivated and why does she have a high expectation in her career and what expectations she has. Unless Joanne does not understand what drives Julia or someone like Julia belongs to a younger generation and might have a different cultural background than her own, she won’t be able to be an effective manager.
For Julia, being micromanaged is a problem since she is a confident and independent person. But, she needs to understand she does not have a lot of real-life experience. Although being quick to learn can come handy to understand and adapt quickly, but she will need to convince her manager that she deserves the opportunity in the first place. And, being frustrated for being micromanaged or not being trusted should not be encouraged. Rather, she needs to remember, her boss, in this case, Joanne has not seen her for too long like her classmates and professors in University who trusted her and respected her, and it takes time to build trust. And Joanne does not know what motivates Julia or why she is so passionate and drive about the job. Julia needs to slow down a little bit and focus on building Joanne’s faith on her. Because even if she leaves the current non-profit she works for, she will have to start from the beginning wherever she goes.
How would you suggest Joanne and Julia use the cultural intelligence principles to resolve this intercultural situation? Specifically, address how Joanne and Julia can help reduce the use of generalizations and stereotyping related to generation.
Cultural intelligence needs strong leadership, not only management. It calls for what
Ronald Heifetz defines as courageous leadership (Taylor, 1999), that’s the courage to face the reality and help others face their realities. That would include who they are, how they behave, what talents and skill set they have or do not have but do need, and what opportunities should be looked for and seized. Leaders must be able to see and anticipate what skill sets are needed in the future, not just develop their employees’ skills for the moment. (Goldsmith, 2006).
As we have already identified, the main issue is stereotyping and generalization. Joanne has certain assumptions, that Julia is too inexperienced to continue working as fast as she would like. Joanne did not even invite Julia to the donor meeting, although Julia prepared the presentation. This is the result of generalization. Joanne did not differentiate Julia from any other new employee with 2 months experience. Julia and Joanne both are making assumptions about each other. Julia thinks Joanne is creating a barrier to her career growth, while Joanne thinks with so many years of experience she knows best. So, to resolve the intercultural situation they need to use Cultural Intelligence principles.
Acquire: Since Joanne is the manager here, she needs to work on being culturally intelligent so that she can understand Julia better rather than stereotyping her based on her values and past experiences with others like Julia. She needs to interact with Julia more, follow her emotions and try to know and understand her, basically, Joanne needs to understand where Julia is coming from and why.
Build: Next Joanne should seek mentorship from something in the non-profit, who has experience working with someone like Julia, who is independent, motivated and want to climb up the ladder fast. But, I believe if Joanne acquires knowledge on Julia bit more and then goes for this step, it will be more effective. Because the mentor would not know all the details about Julia, so Joanne will need to bring or her up to the speed about Julia.
Actually, Julia can find a mentor too, who has experience with Joanne, so Julia can get some different perspective beyond the assumptions she had made.
Contemplate: Joanne can set up daily or weekly meetings with Julia to find out her progress on the things she is working on. It will help them both acquire and build cultural intelligence. This will be an opportunity for Julia to show her progress and for Joanne, she can mentor Julia. But, both of them will have broken their assumptions. Joanne needs to provide constructive feedback whenever and wherever needed.
Do: First both Joanne and Julia should get rid of their assumptions. Joanne should reflect on her own blind spots and figure out what she can improve while interacting with Julia. Joanne needs to remember this will take a while, so she needs to have patience.
While Joanne and Julia both work on cultural intelligence, Joanne can actually arrange some training programs for Julia or let Julia help in other projects where she can learn more. I believe if Joanne helps Julia grow and learn new things Julia will not feel stuck or that Joanne is being a barrier. Culturally educated employees develop global competencies in business relations while building inclusivity (Shandler, 2015).
Cultural Intelligence for Leaders (2012). Saylor Academy. Creative Commons by-nc-sa 3.0
Shandler, D. (2015, July 2). Fostering Global Competence. Society for Human Resource
Management. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/070815-global-competence.aspx