In our ongoing holiday series about what employees want from their companies, we tap into the longing people have to understand the company they work for by understanding the culture of the company, speaking the language and knowing the customs. Not always easy to do.
I remember it vividly. We were standing in the foyer near the elevators at the client's building. I'd just been introduced to a new hire, effusive in his enthusiasm for the new post he'd just been hired to fill in a completely new department. He said: "What I really need is to understand the culture here, how things operate, how things get decided. Who can tell me that?"
What we want to know is how things work. Who to go to for information on processes and systems, for the scoop on personalities and how best to approach them, for insights about what the president REALLY meant when he said xyz. How honest we can really be and who will be our allies?
In cultures that operate by tacit consent, this experience can be daunting, because the rules are unwritten. It takes more effort and attention to get a handle on any situation. We aren't just talking roles and responsibilities, and getting clear on expectations, which is essential for success for a new hire (or ANY employee). Cultural insights help us understand the very nature in which people are expected to interact, how conversations are held, and how information is or isn't shared.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your workplace. Is the culture open to new ideas from any sector or does it encourage using proper channels? Is the culture passive aggressive or direct and to the point? Polite on the surface or genuinely gracious and encouraging? Does it value productivity over creativity or creativity over time commitments? Do people mean what they say?