Understanding workplace communications in Ontario
Moving from India to Canada in September 2015 was a relatively easy decision for Shamsher Bains, since many of his family members were already here. He also had his career plan worked out: an Indian multinational IT services company where he had worked for seven years in project management was able to transfer him to its Toronto operation. Still, Bains knew that to succeed at his job, he would need a better understanding of communication practices in Ontario workplaces.
“It’s definitely an important way to understand the protocols and expectations when it comes to communicating in Ontario workplaces.”
Gaining that knowledge became possible when Bains learned about Workplace Communication Skills for Project Management, a course offered at several colleges across Ontario. This free Occupation-specific Language Training course equips newcomers who have project management training or experience with the language skills and cultural knowledge needed for project management employment in Ontario.
While taking the course at Centennial College, Bains learned about the nature of business workplaces in Ontario, and how to interact effectively with colleagues, clients, managers and suppliers. The course focused on communicating in various ways, including over the phone, by email and face to face. The small-group learning dynamics – there were 14 students in his class – offered Bains considerable attention and support from his teacher, and ample opportunities to practise his skills through class exercises.
“In one activity, we had to give a presentation to the class, and I learned how to stimulate discussion afterwards and the right way to respond to questions,” Bains says.
The cultural aspects of work-oriented communication in Ontario was enlightening to Bains. He discovered the importance of being precise when communicating, which he says differs from the often indirect way employees communicated with each other in India. He also learned about what constitutes appropriate small talk in the workplace.
“These things are culturally inculcated, and are not very evident to those with a different background, so learning about them helped me a lot,” Bains says.
The course also featured career-building information and assignments, which allowed Bains to gain a better understanding of the project management employment landscape in Ontario, and to improve his job interviewing and networking skills. Some of that professional networking happened right in the classroom between Bains and his classmates, who came from countries such as Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Iran and Lebanon.
Bains currently works as a senior project manager with the same company, and is currently assigned at a central IT department of a major Canadian financial corporation. He says with practice, he has been able to integrate most of what he learned into how he communicates at work in a Canadian context. His experience was so useful, he regularly recommends it to other newcomers as a way to fit into Ontario’s workforce.
Says Bains: “It’s definitely an important way to understand the protocols and expectations when it comes to communicating in Ontario workplaces.”
Sharon Aschaiek, www.cocoamedia.ca