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Taming the Transplant at Work

Corey, the Minnesota Native Says...
You’ve been there - you have a new non-native co-worker and he or she is driving you a little nuts.  And he or she is going to be working with you for the foreseeable future.  You’ve got to get through it.

Jerilyn, the East Coast Transplant Says:   
Think of it as launching a Transplant Deprogramming Initiative. What you need to do is to help the Transplant adjust to your culture and work better with you.  Start by reading “Surviving the Transplant at Work.”
  If that doesn’t take the edge off, here’s some ideas for executing a deprogramming initiative.

At the launch, pull the person aside in a private place and empathize. You might say something like, “It must feel pretty frustrating to go from working with pretty candid and direct people, to working with us reserved Minnesotans.”  Then ask them about how it is for them.  As you listen, do everything you can not to be defensive!  At this point just nod and say things like like, “ohhh” and “really?!” and “wow, that’s got to be hard for you.”  Remember, do everything you can not to be defensive!

Once they know you’re an ally, you can offer your help. As an example you might say, “I know it’s got to be really hard to feel successful here.  Would you like me to help?”

Now, what can you do?  Here are 4 steps:

Step 1: Tell as many of the people around the Transplant that they’re making an effort to change and that they’re “trying really hard” and need all of our help.

Step 2: Help the Transplant identify the behaviors that they feel they need to change.  For example:
    1. Interrupting others. 
    2. Having conversations without basic pleasantries.
    3. Sending emails without basic pleasantries. 
    4. Making decisions without getting input.  
    5. Being too adversarial/confrontational. 
    6. Being too pushy about getting together socially. 

Step 3: Encourage the Transplant to tackle one behavior at a time.  Agree to discuss incidents where you see - or don’t see - the behavior changes as soon as you see them.  As a Minnesotan this may take enormous courage on your part!  If you can’t do it immediately after the incident, jot down the details and bring those notes to a regularly scheduled feedback meeting with the Transplant or to a regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting with the Transplant at which feedback from you is a standard agenda item.   

Step 4: Check in with the Transplant to see if this arrangement is still working.  And be sure to encourage the Transplant to keep at it!   It can be exhausting to try to change well-ingrained behavior and they’ll need you and others to continue to champion them.

Best of luck to you!   And as I said above, if you haven’t yet read, “Tips for Surviving the Transplant at Work”  go for it - it just might help make your relationship more bearable in the short-term.

© Jerilyn Veldof and Corey Bonnema