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To work in Québec: the right attitude to adopt

The 5 September it is labour day in Canada. The opportunity to give a spotlight on the customs and culture professionals in Quebec. Our witness: Jean-Pierre Sab

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To work in Québec: the right attitude to adopt

The 5 September it is labour day in Canada. The opportunity to give a spotlight on the customs and culture professionals in Quebec. Our witness: Jean-Pierre Sablé, executive vice-president strategy, marketing and innovation of the co-operative group Desjardins.

Arrived in Montreal in 2001 as a consultant for a large international firm, Jean-Pierre Sablé, a trained engineer, has joined the consulting firm Secor, emblematic of the Quebec inc. (the business community of the province), before being recruited in 2011 by Desjardins, the largest financial institution in québec.

How to succeed in their job search in Quebec ?

Jean-Pierre Sablé: It is necessarily more difficult than what one expects. It is necessary to know where to put his energy. In Quebec, many of the positions are filled by the network. This does not mean, by the piston, but by meetings and exchanges. Of course, there are the headhunters and jobs are filled by ads, but when it comes to recruit experienced, this is done a lot by recommendation. Those who are the most easily are those who have spent 80% of their time to meet people, and not responding to ads. It is very natural, here, to call a contact, explain that we are working in the same field, as one tries to identify the opportunities, we are looking for advice. And it is very natural, face to face, respond positively, because the call is never made in the logic of "I am looking for a job, is what you can hire me?".

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For the newcomer, it requires a certain audacity...

It is certain that you take less risk of being in the cultural gap by responding to an ad that, in agreeing to a face-to-face. A lot of French, and I've been part of, they underestimate the cultural gap they face. In 2001, when I arrived in Montreal, I had a long experience of international project management. My first consulting assignment was for a québec industrial-scale world, it was an English project and all went well. My second mission was for a local company, less diversified in their teams, and in a French-speaking environment. And this has not gone well at all. Because with the language comes a way of being. When you are working in English, you adopt an anglo-saxon approach, a way to interact, to solve problems. If you are working in French, you are in another mode, less in the nuance and consensus, more confrontation, with a more critical spirit. Suddenly, you are perceived as a giver of lesson, not enough respectful people. Conclusion: Quebecers speak French, but work like the Anglo-Saxons. It therefore requires a permanent adjustment. Now fifteen years that I'm here, and I think this fit is made to 90%.

what is the most awkward ?

The way people express their emotions. Here, what is accepted, tolerated, is very different from what it is in France, where the disagreement can be openly expressed. In Canada, it is impossible! A Frenchman who does not agree with his interlocutor the meaning clearly. A Québécois, said: "It is interesting, but I'm not sure" ; the French would hear : "There is almost agreement". When in fact, it is against! Another example: a manager quebec will not say to his teams: "It must be like this" but "Would you say that it could be like this?". It is quite a learning experience. And it starts as soon as the nursery : the children, in small groups, learn to express their disagreement, to resolve a conflict, to explain to the other why his words were hurtful. Just the opposite of what is happening in France, to the school, where the message would rather be: "life is a jungle, you're on your own to your place." Here, we explain constantly to the children: "You can't act as well because this will have such and such an impact on your friends". And friends, what are all the other students in the class, not necessarily those that you have chosen!

How to know if one adopts the right attitude?

I have met several French people who had lost their job and didn't understand why. According to them, all was well. If we had the opportunity to speak with their former bosses, it was a different story: "It wasn't going to, and this is not the fault of him to have said". In fact, the French had not heard the criticism, because it was all in shades, almost underlying. The boss had to say : "It is good, but you should pay attention to this point" ; which actually means: "Attention, there is a problem here". It is thus that we proceed to the school, in Quebec: if the child has a result is very average, he is told "Good job but you need to improve" ; while in France, he would say: "This is not good at all". This is the principle of positive reinforcement, the culture of trust. "Vas-y, tu es capable": the children, here, hear this sentence, from a very young age. This is why the qualifications are only a criterion for hiring, among others. It is especially necessary to show what you are capable of. If you have tried to create a business, change your job, say so, even if you have failed : the courage to start, to put himself at risk, is valued.

What has been the biggest difficulty for you?

ensure that my partner does not truly delusional not on my intentions. It's really necessary to have in mind that the business community in Quebec has been built, originally, by the Anglo-Saxons, that the way of doing business is anglo-saxon, even if it happens in French. In a meeting, it is there to make things happen, it is necessary that it be real. Not to debate to infinity, "shoveling clouds", as we say here. There's a real economy of energy and words when it comes to work. This implies a questioning, a change of referential. And a lot of humility. But this adaptation is not painful, it is rather stimulating!

What do you enjoy the most in Quebec?

The confidence and positive energy! This way of looking at the glass half full rather than half empty. The simplicity and fluidity of the relations at work are also very nice; the side that is respectful and consensual is based.

What are the advantages of French?

In the financial sector, they are obvious: in North America, the number of people with experience in finance at an institution of significant size, and capable of expressing themselves in French, is actually quite limited. In Canada, apart from Desjardins*, there are only two other banks where we speak mostly French, the National Bank and the Laurentian Bank. So there are still opportunities. But it is true that the number of French stacks each year, and that in québec companies, we can not have teams with 70% of French! The employer must also ensure a degree of diversity and to remain representative of its customers.

*48, 000 employees including 40 000 in Quebec, several hundreds of recruitment per year.

Read our complete file

Canada : new rules for temporary workers and PVTistes temporary foreign Workers in Canada : what are the solutions to overcome the crisis ? Employment and business in Canada, the must-see sites

do You want to work in Quebec ? See you on 19 and 20 November in Paris, to the Journées Québec, to meet with employers and associations specialised in welcoming and assisting immigrants.

Registration HERE

*48, 000 employees including 40 000 in Quebec, several hundreds of recruitment per year.

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