Hi Red Dog,RedDog wrote: Unfortunately, in the US, the focus is not on being "well-rounded", as in Europe, but rather you must be a subject matter expert (SME) in one specific thing to the total exclusion of anything else. It's a myopic approach that drives me insane. I read somewhere recently that in America, if you engage in some activity, it must be for the sole purpose of earning money. If your activity - whatever it may be - does not lead to increased earnings, it is worthless or a waste of time. I'm sorry, but there's more to life than work, and personally, I have about 50 hobbies, some of them sports, some working with my hands, and others are intellectual. None of them are about earning money. They're about enriching my life, my mind, and my soul.
My last job was with a Fortune 500 company with 12,000+ employees world-wide. I had extensive (almost daily) contacts with coworkers in oversea offices, and was at one point the support person for Asian-Pacific offices. We had offices across Europe as wel.
My personal work experience may differ from yous. From my observation, American workers were expected to be "jack of all trades" beyond their stated SME role. I was the SME for IBM/Tivoli SWD but also had to evaluate laptop hardware, build packages, support in-house developers, manage Altiris RS update project, manage mass software rollout projects, and so on. As SME I was also level 2 support for all Tivoli related tickets from all offices world-wide. Basically, we were like octopus with unpaid overtime.
In comparison, our European coworkers were trained for only one specific task, and he/she is not expected to perform any other task or work overtime. In some EU countries it's illegal to work unpaid overtime, so US-based workers actually had to cover for them off-hours.
I didn't feel that Europeans were "well rounded" at work, they were trained specialists with very rigid and inflexible roles. If I asked someone in EU office to do something beyond his assigned role, he will refuse. On the other hand, they probably have a more rounded lifestyle where they work to live and not live to work.
In meetings, American workers are usually more open and expressive, prone to blabbing non-work related crap while waving their arms around. European coworkers from Geneva office keep their hands and arms in conservative posture and only speak what's necessary. Coworkers from London office... want to eat hot curry and go bar hopping.
We had a pretty young intern from Italy for few months, and she was very, very popular.