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Adapting to Workplace Culture

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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No matter how good you are at your work, each workplace is likely to have its own distinctive workplace culture. Some will be less formal than others and each one will have different expectations as to how they expect the workforce to relate to each other and to customers. Often, there will also be different expectations as to how they want their workers to conduct themselves and to behave.

When going into a new workplace for the first time, one of the key determining factors as to how successful your appointment is likely to be is going to be down to how quickly you can grasp this new workplace culture you’re faced with and whether or not it fits in with your own beliefs and values about work too.

What Determines Workplace Culture

There are a number of factors which combine to influence the type of culture you’re going to be faced with at work. From an organisational standpoint, things like the nature of the business or industry, their own values and workplace policies and the geographical and physical surroundings will all play a part. Then there’s the human perspective – how bosses treat the workers and their general attitude towards management, their ethical values as well as the salaries, benefits and any rewards workers are able to obtain are all key aspects here. All of these facets combine to formulate workplace culture and will all have a bearing on employees’ morale and the overall ‘culture’ of the relationship between employer and worker and between an employee and their colleagues.

Adapting To Your Environment

Nobody feels comfortable being the ‘new kid on the block’ at work. If you’re determined to ‘fit in’ to a new working environment, your natural instinct will want to be drawn to getting to know people and establishing some good relationships with your fellow colleagues and bosses alike as quickly as possible. However, for the first couple of days at least, one of the best things you can do is to casually observe what’s going on around you, whilst getting on with your work. By doing so, you can soon get a flavour of the type of workplace you’re in and can subtly deduce what is expected and what is and is not acceptable ways of conducting yourself as an employee and the importance of effective communication in the workplace. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be friendly. It just means that you shouldn’t go ‘overboard’ and try to stand out in the first few days and make sure you avoid things like office gossip, for example.

What Employers Tend To Look For

Until you truly understand what it is your employer expects of you, your best tactic is to behave in such a way that your employer could have little reason to complain. Therefore punctuality and reliability, good communication in the workplace with your colleagues and offering to assist where you can as well as taking responsibility for any mistakes you might make, sharing ideas at meetings and generally getting on with the job in hand will all ease the transition.

The Importance Of Having A Mentor

Most employers will want new workers to be able to fit into their new workplace as quickly as possible. This is one of the reasons why mentors are a good idea. Having a mentor who is more experienced than you will not only help you get to grips with the job more quickly, they’ll also be able to help you with fitting in. After all, they’ll have much more of an insight into how the company works, will be able to give you an honest appraisal of how you’re doing as well as being able to offer you useful tips and advice. They will also be able to tell you about any unwritten ‘rules’ the company tends to have as well as them being first in the know about any anticipated changes that are likely to occur at work.

Adapting to a new workplace culture doesn’t happen overnight. Like with any relationship, it takes time to build upon and as long as you follow the basic rules of workplace etiquette, you should find that you’re able to make the transition fairly comfortably. However, it’s also important to realise that what may suit some employees might be totally at odds with how you feel a company should be like. Therefore, if you’re finding it difficult to fit in with the workplace culture, the chances are that it’s often not the right environment for you to work in.

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