You know there is a story but there is also always a “back story.” You know…the real juice of what is really going on. That is how I define culture in the workplace. It can be a scary or confusing topic for some, but it is one that should not be underestimated.
Culture is the rule maker and the rule breaker. Culture is simply the language of your company and how things get done. When you do not understand the culture at your company, you are liable to break all kinds of rules and not even understand how that happened. In contrast, when you truly understand the culture and can navigate it well, you are amazed at how “easy” things seem to fall in place. Here are 3 tips for getting a clue on what the culture is in your company:
- What do people wear?
- Who do they go to when they have a problem?
- Do they email to communicate, or do they get up and speak face to face?
- What hours do people come in and leave?
Observe your surroundings and take it in. There are clues all around you that tell you part of the story.
- What do they say when there is a problem/mistake?
- What do they say or do when things go well?
- How do they recognize and reward performance?
It is important to listen to what is being said and how it is said. Their method and frequency of communication gives you insight on what is important to the company and what things are of a lower priority.
- What kind of answers do you get?
- Who do they point to as resources in your group or outside your group?
- Do you get different answers when you talk to different people or are the messages consistent?
Asking questions is a great way to get the real story instead of assuming or guessing. It also shows an initiative to learn and a desire to want to do it the right way.
If you are struggling to understand why some things work for others and not for you, it could be a result of not fitting into the culture and going about things the right way. Culture is your compass on how to navigate your company. Take inventory of how you fare on the 3 techniques mentioned above and employ them regularly to always stay in step with the culture and know what’s really going on.
If you need help with understanding how to fit in where you work and grasping the culture, sign up for a complimentary career insight call.