Tips for Aussies wanting to work in the UK

Reading Young PR today I came across this story about Aussie behaviour in the workplace.

The survey the article sources comes to the conclusion that us Aussies are considered to behave rudely in the workplace by our US and UK colleagues. There are some other dubious findings, apparently we bring too many friends into the office and also get offended if we aren’t offered a drink. The survey has been done for PR purposes by ServCorp – a virtual office company.

Being in PR I know only too well not to put too much credence in these kind of surveys, and the findings seem a little on the bizarre side, but I do think there is some truth to the finding that we are rude.

Having worked in the UK for the last two years I have learnt a lot about my working style and how best to curb some of the behaviour that will get me in hot water over here. Of course these things will be different for different people, but in case you are considering working here in the UK I have prepared five top don’ts:

  • Don’t be so direct – us Aussies tend to ‘tell it like it is’ however from my experience the ‘direct’ trait is almost unique to us and gets a lot of people offside. So take your time, sugar coat bad news a little, and if your client asks you what you think about their idea – maybe suggest ways how it could be improved rather than saying it is shit. Which brings me nicely onto my next point:
  • Don’t bloody swear all the farking time – I swear a lot. I tend to do it in general language, I’ve been known to do it when speaking with my boss, I’ve often done it when speaking with media, and have even done it when pitching for new business. Sometimes it is OK, because it grabs attention, but use it sparingly or you might find find yourself alienating some fuckas.
  • Management hierarchies matter – in Aus we tend to be pretty lax about management hierarchies. It isn’t unusual for say an AD in a PR agency to brief the AE skipping the AM and likewise for an AE to ask the advice of the AD skipping the AM on the way up. We do this because it may save some time, be cheaper, or simply because we are so bloody direct and that is the most direct way to get the job done. But here in the UK it can get people’s nose out of joint. Use the chain of command or at the very least ensure the middle person is involved in the communication.
  • Don’t be the annoying proud Aussie – us Aussies have a beautiful country, we have wonderful beaches, generally sunny weather and like a drink, but so do people of other nations. There are beautiful beaches outside of Aus and some of them have rocks, and you know rock beaches are ok, it tends to mean the water is crystal clear. Don’t carry on about the weather there are plenty of places in the world that have lovely weather and Brits know only too well their weather is shite. And yes we do drink, but we aren’t the best drinkers in the world, I think some people in the North of England have claimed that and it ain’t pretty. So be proud of being an Aussie, but recognise that other people are proud of where they are from too and realise that ever country has its good parts.
  • Don’t think people will hire you because Aussies are known as hard workers – there are lots of hard working Aussies and there are lots of lazy Aussies. There are hard working Brits, Poles, Yanks, but there are also their lazy equivalents. Most British employers will be more concerned about the fact you come from a small market that they consider to be quite behind the UK market – this is what you should be focussed on addressing first.

Us Aussies get on well with the Brits. We share so much in common and there is a really fun rivalry between both countries – especially on the sporting field. But there are fundamental differences when working over here. In my case I spent six months not knowing what I didn’t know and so went about my business thinking it was easy and exactly the same as back home. The next six months were some of the hardest in my working life as I realised what I didn’t know. I thought I would never learn what I needed to know about doing business here in the UK. Now at the two year mark I know what I don’t know – I think. I have now curbed those most abrasive aspects of my work behaviour and have also learnt to warn people I work with that working with me will be different. And do you know what I haven’t been fired yet.

If you have other advice I would love to add it to this.

ausday 311208 thumb Tips for Aussies wanting to work in the UK

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