According to recent Harvard Business Review article, Harvey University authors of Professional Transitions Allan Church and Jay Conger say that many talented individuals stumble in a new company because they fail to read its culture.
The writing team say that new employees tend to focus on the job and boss while overlooking the organisation’s cultural rules.
Most companies do not explain the cultural rules to new employees, and yet understanding them plays a big role in an employee’s success.
Being aware of what your colleagues does and how they work matters will help your effectiveness and you being perceived well.
Through their line of work, Church and Conger identify five dimensions of culture that you should pay attention to at your new work place:
Pay attention to communication
Communication is very important at a work place. So it is important to look at how people communicate with one another:
- Do they use formal or informal communication methods?
- Is there a lot of preparation that goes into a meeting or are they spontaneous?
Church and Conger advice is to ask your other colleagues if you seem unsure.
It is also important to know when and who to communicate to for certain situations. When to communicate with your senior colleagues will be determined by the hierarchy of the company.
How to start/build and approach relationships is also important.
According to Church and Conger, in some organisations the only way to influence others is by spending time with them in person. Ask insiders for advice on forming and approaching relationships.
You may need to build a relationship with someone before asking them for help or input at work.
Or you just might be able to ask anyone for help when you need it, no need for relationship building.
Decision making is important
How decisions are made varies from company to company and can be determined by culture and communication.
However, according to Church and Conger, though formal meetings may be a norm, you may find that decisions happen over lunch or tea break.
You should also understand whether your company culture has a bias for action, analysis and consensus.
Individual versus group
Some companies tend to focus on individual work rather than group work. Each individual is rewarded for the work done.
Research by Church and Conger reveals that such companies tend to recognise ambitious individuals and individual working in these organisations have a great potential of career progression for their employees.
You should also be aware whether your company culture is individualistic or group orientated. This will also help know whether you are at the right place or not.
Some companies do not adapt well to change. Another cultural factor that you need to pay attention to is how well your company adapts to change their resistance and non-resistance.
Study the reaction of your colleagues towards you as a new employee How they act around you will determine how comfortable they are with you and their reactions towards new recommendations you make.
Church and Conger advice is that before making any recommendations, test them with colleagues you may trust and get their opinion on how the others may react.