Moscow for professionals

image of Moscow evening traffic by photographer Dmitry Chistoprudov

I’ve often wondered what it’s like to work in the U.S. I mean I’ve had plenty of jobs in the States – everything from a museum guide to a tutor to a waitress, but I was a full-time student for most of that time. For the vast majority of my adult professional life I’ve been in Russia.

The workforce rules are different here. The first difference I noticed not long after arriving was that sex discrimination and what would be considered inappropriate racial and sexual commentary are an office norm.

Other differences take a bit longer to pick out. The Moscow Times had a great article featuring an interview with IKEA’s Russia manager Per Wendschlag who had some interesting observations on the Russian professional world:

“Regulations and rules are more complex in Russia. It takes much more time and you need to be aware of it – that things take longer. It’s a different way of doing business here. You cannot be impatient. If you come to Russia and you want quick fixes – this doesn’t work…” -Per Wendschlag

“Few people here are willing to risk taking responsibility in decision making…People are more waiting for you to give instructions and orders and act according to orders than trying to be proactive…It’s a rather hierarchical society where most of the people expect the top executive to make all the decisions.” -Per Wendschlag

I find these two things to be really frustrating, especially the second one, although it’s a much easier for me because my boss is from Europe. Economist husband, whose boss is Russian, always jokes that there are only two rules for the Russian office – 1) your boss is always right, 2) if you disagree with your boss, please see rule number 1.

What’s difficult about the western work world?

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