Already at the end of 2021 the Washington Post, commenting on the “Great Resignation”, defined it as a planetary phenomenon. According to the US newspaper, the pandemic would have changed the vision of a multitude of American workers who would no longer be satisfied with better professional prospects, but would have given much more importance to the quality of their lives and their free time.
But how are things really? And what are the main differences in approach, if any, between the Italian world of work and the US world of work?
We tried to ask Mariateresa Romeo, Organizational Change Expert and Executive Coach, Italian by birth, culture and education, but American by adoption, who after having acquired extensive experience in Italy in business consultancy in large national and multinational companies, has for years been he works in human resources consultancy in the United States and has recently founded the Cometa Coaching company here.
Indeed, the pandemic has uncovered the Pandora’s box – Mariateresa tells us – never as in this period have I found myself having to manage the increasingly numerous requests of customers, individuals and companies, grappling with issues of corporate well-being and work life balance.
In my business I find myself straddling two professional universes: the Italian one, which I know deeply for having taken my first steps, and the American one in which I have been working for more than 7 years. In both, there is a request for consultancy for organizational support, employee engagement and their well-being in the company.
One of the fundamental pillars of employee engagement is the trust that consists in trusting (of the bosses, colleagues and the organization as a system of which one is part) and in perceiving that in turn we enjoy the trust of others.
In addition to trust there are also effective internal communication processes (based on feedback, recognition based on performance, and appreciation of the value of the person regardless of role or performance) and the sharing of value and a sense of purpose.
For younger generations, but not only, it is increasingly important to work for companies whose ethics, attention to environmental protection or policies on diversity, equity and inclusion are shared.
From all of this comes the organization’s ability to attract and retain talent, create a supportive work environment, and generate commitment and a sense of responsibility at all levels of the organization.
In this, the two universes are not very dissimilar, which is different when I address individual clients with necessarily specific coaching plans.
What are the main differences you have found?
Simplifying as much as possible, we could say that the American customer is more pragmatic, his request for support is short-term – an interview to be addressed, a thorny dispute to be resolved – I would define his request as a “tactical” request, the search for the cheapest solution and more efficient at a given problem; the Italian customer, on the other hand, is asking for a broader, more “strategic” support, we could say; his request focuses more on help to better grasp the context, the long-term vision.
But it is above all in the relationship with the time resource that the greatest differences are highlighted. The American world has a very effective concept of punctuality, respect for deadlines; there is an excellent ability to organize working days and maximum respect for the value of time spent in the workplace. However, there is a real difficulty in enjoying the free time that has been saved so efficiently. It is no coincidence that in the United States it often happens that companies have to periodically remind their employees to take the vacation foreseen by the contract, in order to avoid losing them!
Italian culture has a more flexible vision of time, which unfortunately is sometimes misunderstood, but considers it as a value in itself; he knows how to manage it independently if spent at work or for his own personal activities.
Beyond the linguistic aspect, what helps many of our compatriots to overcome the difficulties of communication and integration with the US world is precisely to learn to understand these cultural differences.
What characterizes Cometa Coaching, the coaching company you recently founded?
Cometa Coaching has unique characteristics as it brings together different coaching techniques and methodologies.
I am certified in emotional intelligence, neurolinguistic programming and ontological coaching, and these skills of mine allow me to mix and use the right tool based on the peculiarities and individualities of my clients.
Coaching is an artisanal job, you have to sew a dress on your client, like serving yourself in a high fashion boutique!
I strongly believe in the uniqueness of people. The beauty of my job is that I can tackle the same topic, for example time management we were talking about before, with multiple clients, and the way I work with each of them will always be different.
My role, as a coach, is not to give answers or advice on how to deal with problems, my clients have their own ability to decide what to do, rather I have to provide feedback, question their points of view, help them to see things from a different perspective, generate change.
Having more than 20 years of experience in the business environment allows me to speak the same language as the professionals who turn to me, to be on the same wavelength and to understand their difficulties more easily, in a word to put on their shoes, with greater ease.
Cometa Coaching naturally aims to support professional growth paths, but also to build a bridge, facilitate the integration of professionals from different cultures. It is aimed both at individuals who want to capitalize on professional experiences in the international arena, to increase their communication and managerial skills, and at companies that intend to promote inclusion and derive value from cultural diversity.
I believe that anyone who comes from Italy and approaches the United States and vice versa, to undertake an activity, needs to find someone who can help him translate the different attitudes and behaviors, not always codified in the professional field, and therefore not easy. understanding.
In this sense, mine is a success story, because I was able to treasure and exploit all the good things I have learned from both professional cultures.