A skilled migrant arrived in Sydney and joined the corporate sector. She was invited to a Team Meeting. What’s that? She had no idea of what team meetings were. In Korea, she hadn’t attended a team meeting even though she was a manager in the corporate sector. What was she meant to do? In her experience, decisions were made by the senior manager and passed down the line – you carried out what was required – no questions asked.
At her first meeting, she was surprised when her team members offered their views and opinions, in other words, fully participated in the meeting. She remained quiet and didn’t utter a word. Initially it was a struggle for her.
In unfamiliar situations, e.g. your first team meeting, it’s best to observe how others speak, who are the major contributors and what their views are.
It was a steep learning curve for our migrants get used to team meetings and how they are run.
In Australia, we take team meetings and the value of these meetings for granted. But in many hierarchically structured countries where migrants may have worked in corporate situations, there are no team meetings and one does not question superiors. Also, you address your superior as ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’.
So, how do we go about meetings in Australia?
A team meeting is an occasion when the team is updated on each team member’s work. A chance to share ideas, and solutions if necessary. At your first team meeting in the organisation, observe. Some team meetings may be informal without an agenda. But usually, an agenda is distributed before the meeting.
Here are some tips:
Arrive on time – punctuality is important as often there are back to back meetings and it shows courtesy to the other participants.
- What if you are asked to host a team meeting? Some corporations have the practise of taking turns to host meetings. If you are a team leader or manager most likely you will have to host team meetings. How do you go about it?
- Be prepared for your meetings. Prepare an agenda, be clear about time (duration of meeting) and location. Most importantly, be clear about the agenda items so that attendees are prepared – don’t ambush people.
- Treat everyone equally. In egalitarian Australia, where men and women are treated equally, it’s done to look at women in the eye.
- Invite your team members to contribute to the agenda, as they may have items that need attention.
- Avoid being distracting – clicking your pen, looking at your iPhone. Pay complete attention during the meeting – BE PRESENT. Don’t engage in racist comments or sarcasm even if others in the meeting do.
- Be professional at all times. Body language is a whole new topic but in brief, look interested, no rolling of eyes or pulling your chair right back or away from others.
– Soraya Raju, Cultural Integration Expert, Migrate Success Jan 2017