Even though I started working in the ski school a few weeks ago, I only recently attended the company induction program. Sixty-five of us were there. This was new for me. I am usually on the other side delivering the training. So began the first of many changes in my new world of work.
We are different and yet the same
The room was long and narrow and filled with people from all over the world – the UK, Ireland, Canada, USA, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Taiwan, New Zealand, Japan and of course Australia. Despite this diversity, there was a fairly consistent theme to the dress code – beanies, t-shirts, jeans. A nice change to the pinstripe suit dress code of my previous place of employment.
We were introduced to the business leaders and given an insight to the values and culture of the organisation as well walking through policies and procedures. There were many opportunities to hear stories across the room – from leaders, managers and new recruits alike. These all had some common threads – enthusiasm and passion for tourism, travel and most of all – snow!
On a day trip to Otaru we had a peek at some of the local attractions. This cultural tour took us to the old Aoyama villa and the award winning Nikka Whiskey Yoichi distillery. Here was a fascinating story about the establishment of this business, in countryside with weather akin to that in Scotland.
Working with passionate people
What’s it like to work in a place where you sense the professionalism yet experience the fun? A workplace where the bosses are happy and passionate about what they do. A workplace where the work crews are young or young at heart, chasing snow or flexible lifestyles. A workplace with people listening, intently taking in the lessons. You feel the positive vibe.
Since then groups (including mine) have been traipsing round the village, identifying key locations, learning the names of restaurants and bars, getting familiar with venue styles. It won’t take some of us long to learn these I’m sure. Training in that regard won’t be hard!
Knowing all parts of the whole
Working in this organisation is like working in a full-service travel and holiday business. You work in one part but need to appreciate its place in the whole entity. It feels like information overload at the start – so much to know, so many new systems to learn. Perhaps it is just me that feels daunted by this, and the impending busy periods that we will soon be plunged into.
Like all new arrangements it will take a little time for everyone to gel as a group and work as a team. The friendliness is definitely there, and the volition too. In fact, in the village itself I find myself talking to anyone who is not Japanese. Why? Because I can. It is like there is some connection by location.
Learning the ways of a new culture
Learning and understanding the ways of Japan and its people is an interesting and enjoyable challenge. We pick up snippets of language and it becomes a new game, to learn the lingo. Greetings are shared, but engaging in conversation is something else. The polite Japanese people oblige in responding to our experimental use of their language.
Methinks it is the beginning of a new community. One that requires curiosity and a flexible approach to learn how it will work, and our place within it. I am impressed by the those teaching me. And, when the going gets tough I need to remind myself that I may not have the hang of this yet – but with continued effort – will get there.