Sunday, August 31, 2008

Employees Must Wash Hands

I am back home from a one month holiday in the eastern part of the USA - my first time to visit the US which was very inspiring and revealing! I thought I would blog on the way; but I didn't get to it because I did not spend many hours on computers. Somehow I thought you need to blog regularly to prevent that your readership will drop drastically. It is nice to see that isn't the case. I don't see any noticeable drop after 4 weeks at least.

Visiting the US was interesting because seeing part of the US made me understand a lot of the movies I have seen, and world politics, economy, etc. in a different way. The US is not a new country you don't know anything about, but seeing it with your own eyes makes a huge difference. When you work in an African country, people from the US and Europoe are often seen as 'Westerners'. It was impressive to see the cultural differences between the Netherlands and the US, but also to experience that as a newbie you don't know about many things and don't understand them. At first we didn't know how to fuel our car ('lift the lever') for instance. One of the signs in the bathroom struck me as utterly weird- the sign you see in the picture reading "Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning to Work". At the end of the trip it felt normal seeing the signs (you see them in virtually all the bathrooms in restaurants-called restrooms by the way). I still wonder whether the reminder is seriously intended for the employees - which seems quite paternalistic to me to be told to wash your hands! Or rather for the customers to show the company cares about hygiene. Anyhow, this is just one example of how a newcomers looks around with fresh eyes.

To make the link to knowledge management in organisations: I guess organisations could make more systematic use of this phenomenon by asking explicit feedback from their new employees after a certain period on job. I heard of an organisation that did a 100- days feedback. Seems that can give very good insights and would allow the managers in the organisation to see the organisation with fresh eyes.


Lorraine Woodward said...

I think it is actually a law. I do take it for granted.

A Canadian friend noticed the "Warning: Hot items will be HOT!" signs and the disclaimer about raw meat on our menus and said, "oh yes. I forgot that you Americans are so litigious."

Joitske Hulsebosch said...

He Lorraine thanks for that explanation! I never thought it could be a law.. that does it explain it though...

At my father's workplace there was a sign: 'in case of fire, shout: fire!' we always thought that was funny too :)