Starting a new job can be an exciting but overwhelming experience. One of the most important things you can do to be effective in your new role is to understand and adapt to the company culture.
In this article, I discussed five key dimensions of company culture and provided some ideas on how to develop a clear understanding of each aspect. By paying close attention to these dimensions and being proactive in learning about the company culture, you can set yourself up for success and make a positive impact in your new role.
Five Dimensions of Company Culture
When starting a new job. It is crucial for employees to be aware of the cultural norms of their new organizations to avoid any conflicts that may arise. You must pay close attention to five key dimensions of the company culture.
Firstly, it is essential to understand how your organization values and cultivates relationships. This dimension of company culture can have a significant impact on the work environment and how people interact with each other. If the company places a high value on relationships, it may promote a more collaborative and supportive work culture. On the other hand, if the company culture is more individualistic, employees may be more competitive and less inclined to collaborate.
Secondly, it is important to observe how people tend to communicate in the company. Communication is the backbone of any organization, and understanding how people communicate can help employees navigate their new work environment better. If the company culture is more formal, employees may need to be more conscious of their language and tone. If the culture is more informal, employees may need to adapt to a more relaxed communication style.
The third dimension of company culture to consider is how people make decisions. Is the decision-making process more hierarchical, or does the company culture promote a more collaborative approach? Understanding the company's decision-making process can help employees understand how to navigate the system and have their voices heard.
The fourth dimension to consider is whether the company culture values individuals or groups. In some organizations, individual achievements are highly valued, while in others, the focus is on teamwork and collaboration. Understanding this aspect of the company culture can help employees understand what is expected of them and how they can contribute to the company's success.
The final dimension to consider is how accepting people are of change. Change is inevitable in any organization, and understanding how receptive the company culture is to change can help employees navigate any changes more effectively. If the culture is more resistant to change, employees may need to be more patient and persistent in implementing changes.
Applying these Five Dimensions
To illustrate the importance of understanding company culture when starting a new job, let me provide some specific examples. Suppose an employee starts working at a company where relationships are highly valued. In that case, they may need to invest more time in building strong relationships with their colleagues to fit into the company culture. On the other hand, if the company culture promotes an individualistic approach, the employee may need to focus more on their individual achievements to succeed in their role.
Another example could be if an employee starts working at a company where the decision-making process is more hierarchical. In that case, the employee may need to be more patient and persistent in having their voices heard. Alternatively, if the company culture promotes a collaborative approach, the employee may need to be more proactive in seeking out opportunities to contribute to decision-making.
Starting a new job can be challenging, but understanding the company culture can help employees set themselves up for success. Paying close attention to these five key dimensions of company culture is crucial for employees to navigate their new work environment effectively. As an HR and leadership consultant, I encourage employees to be proactive in learning about their new company's culture, as it can have a significant impact on their job satisfaction and success.
How to Learn about a Company's Culture Before Starting a New Job
Below are some tips on how to learn about a company's culture before starting a new job.:
It is essential to research the company. Look for information on the company's website, social media platforms, and news articles. This information can give you a general idea of the company's values, mission, and culture.
Try to talk to current or former employees. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for this. Reach out to current or former employees and ask them about the company culture. This can provide you with an insider's perspective on what it's like to work at the company.
Attend company events. If the company hosts events, such as open houses or networking events, attend them. These events can give you an idea of the company's culture and allow you to connect with current employees.
Review the job posting and interview process. Look for clues in the job posting and the interview process that can give you an idea of the company's culture. For example, if the job posting emphasizes teamwork, the company culture may prioritize collaboration.
Pay attention to the company's physical environment. The company's office space can provide clues about its culture. For example, if the office has an open floor plan, the company culture may prioritize collaboration and communication.
Researching the company, talking to current or former employees, attending company events, reviewing the job posting and interview process, and paying attention to the physical environment can all provide valuable insights into a company's culture before starting a new job.
How a Company's Physical Environment Can Reflect Its Culture
The physical environment of a company can be a reflection of its culture. For example, a company with an open floor plan may prioritize collaboration and communication. The open space encourages employees to work together and share ideas, which can lead to increased innovation and productivity.
On the other hand, a company with a more formal office space may have a more hierarchical culture. Offices with closed doors and separate workspaces may indicate a culture that values privacy and individual work. In this type of environment, employees may be more focused on their individual achievements rather than teamwork.
Another example is a company that values work-life balance. Such a company may have a physical environment that reflects this culture. For example, the company may have a relaxation area or a gym where employees can take breaks or exercise. This type of environment can indicate that the company values employee well-being and encourages employees to take care of themselves.
A company's physical environment can reflect its culture, and understanding this can provide valuable insights into the company's values and priorities.
Asking Questions to Develop a Clear Understanding of These Five Aspects of Company Culture
One way to gain a clear understanding of a company's culture is to ask questions. During the onboarding process, take the opportunity to ask questions about the company's culture and values. This can help you gain a deeper understanding of what is expected of you and how you can best contribute to the company's success.
Another idea is to observe how your colleagues behave. Pay attention to how they interact with each other and how they approach their work. This can give you valuable insights into the company's culture and can help you adapt to your new work environment.
It is also important to be open-minded and adaptable. Culture is not static, and it can evolve over time. Be willing to adapt to changes in the culture and be open to new ideas and approaches.
Lastly, seek feedback from your colleagues. Ask for feedback on your work, how you are fitting into the company culture, and how you can improve. This can help you understand how you can best contribute to the company's success and can help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues.
Here are some specific examples of questions you can ask during the onboarding process to gain a better understanding of the company culture:
How does the company value and cultivate relationships?
Can you tell me more about how the company fosters collaboration and teamwork?
How does the company recognize and celebrate employee achievements?
What kind of social activities or events does the company host to promote relationships among colleagues?
How do people tend to communicate in the company?
Can you tell me more about the communication channels used in the company?
How formal or informal is the communication style here?
How does the company approach conflict resolution or difficult conversations?
How do people make decisions in the company?
Can you walk me through the decision-making process in the company?
How does the company prioritize and allocate resources?
What kind of input or feedback is expected from employees during the decision-making process?
Does the company culture value individuals or groups?
How does the company approach teamwork and collaboration?
How are individual achievements recognized and rewarded?
How does the company support employee development and growth?
How accepting is the company culture of change?
What kind of changes has the company undergone in the past, and how were they handled?
How does the company approach innovation and continuous improvement?
What kind of support is provided to employees during times of change?
Asking these types of questions during the onboarding process can help you gain a better understanding of the company culture and how you can best contribute to the company's success.
how to use the information I gather from these questions
Using the information you gather from asking questions about the company culture during onboarding can help you adapt to your new work environment and be more effective in your role. Here's an example:
Let's say you ask about how people tend to communicate in the company and learn that the company values open and direct communication. Armed with this knowledge, you can adapt your communication style to fit the company culture. You may need to be more direct and assertive in your communication to fit in with the company's communication style. This can help you build stronger relationships with your colleagues and be more effective in your role.
Additionally, let's say you ask about how the company approaches change and learn that the company culture is more resistant to change. Armed with this knowledge, you can approach any proposed changes with more sensitivity and caution. You may need to be more patient and persistent in advocating for changes that you believe will benefit the company. This can help you navigate any changes in the company more effectively and build trust with your colleagues.
Using the information you gather from asking questions about the company culture during onboarding can help you adapt your communication style, approach changes more effectively, and build stronger relationships with your colleagues.
Understanding company culture is essential for anyone starting a new job. By gaining a clear understanding of the five key dimensions of company culture, you can adapt to your new work environment and be more effective in your role. Whether it's through asking questions, observing your colleagues, being open-minded and adaptable, or seeking feedback, there are many ways to develop a clear understanding of the company culture. By taking the time to do so, you can build stronger relationships with your colleagues, navigate changes more effectively, and contribute to the company's success.
Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.