Why respecting the corporate culture of your new team is important

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 02

When you start a new job, whether in your current company or a new one, the first 30-days gives you great visibility to your new manager and team. Good and bad. Fitting into the team is an objective of the hiring manager and whether the team is right for you is an objective you have for the work.

Respecting the current culture means “doing no harm”

Unless you are brought into a team to blow it up — rare, except in sports — your first rule should be “do no harm.” Usually the team is doing some things right. Sometimes they are doing some things extraordinarily right. By “doing no harm,” you have the ability to observe what the management team believes is being done well and you can learn from that. Any time a new team member is added to the current team, the team needs to make some effort to rebuild itself because of your new presence. Think “Brett Favre” going into the Vikings locker room — it is disruptive to the current team. Doing no harm by respecting the culture means you end up supporting that which is good about the team.

Respecting the corporate culture allows you to observe

Going into a team and immediately trying to change how the team works doesn’t give you the opportunity to observe how the team is currently working. There might be some great practices that you could learn that would improve your job skills. Or you could see a dysfunctional team that, in trying to change it right away, causes you to miss the underlying issues with the team. By respecting the current culture, you can learn more about how the team operates.

Respecting the corporate culture gets you to acceptance faster

Your new team has their apprehension about you as well. If you come into a team and start disrupting how the work is done, you’ll have a harder time building your credibility with the team. A key to quickly getting to success on a new team is fitting in with the corporate culture because the corporate culture is the underlying process by which work gets done.

Now, if you are reading this and feeling like this is just “drink the Kool-Aid and get along” like I’m feeling as I’m writing it, you should note that this is why it is important to acclimate to a team after taking the job. As part of your interview questions, you should already have asked the important corporate culture questions to determine if the position was right for you in the first place. If you didn’t do that, you can end up in a totally wrong corporate culture for your work style and this will feel like drinking the Kool-Aid.

But asking the right interview questions means what you are seeing in your new job should validate the answers you received. Plus help you get to accomplishment faster in your new job.

I’m writing a lot about how to get to success in the first 30-days on your new job in my new book “I’ve Landed My Dream Job — Now What???” What other ways can you quickly acclimate yourself with your new team?

  • team and having the same goals mean good business

  • Rick Saia says:

    Nice job Scot! Newcomers, especially managers, ignore company/corporate culture at their peril. It’s much easier to change your own style than that of the rest of the team. And yes, both sides need to explore “cultural fit” during the interview stage. Even if you have a good idea of the culture before you start the job, the best approach is to sit back and do more observing than directing.

    • Scot says:

      @Rick — To be fair, it is difficult to figure out the company culture from an interview or two, especially in relation to actual working conditions once you start on the job. But try you must, because the culture of a company really puts a line around how things get done. Thanks for the comment, Rick!

  • odette de crecy says:

    Better advice would be for the new team person to know that he or she very likely will be joining a team comprised of both genders and that some might not know what “Brett Favre” going into the Vikings locker room feels like.

    Indeed best leave locker room metaphors at the door altogether

    • Scot says:

      @odette de crecy — Wow.

      Well, in the first place, the NFL has huge numbers of female fans, so not knowing who Brett Favre is after his 17 or so years in the league isn’t so far fetched, especially considering traditional media like the David Letterman Show snarks at his on again, off again retirement behavior all the time. A good segment, if not the majority, of his audience is female and they get it.

      Second, I think it is an apt comparison of Brett Favre walking into a locker room the first time – something that happens with every sports team no matter the sport — being similar to one starting on the job their first day and being introduced to all of their new team members: the dynamic of the team changes. This needs to be accounted for when starting work.

      Third, of course a team in business consists of both genders; the work force is virtually a 50-50 split. Being in business and implying that women shouldn’t hear sports analogies relating to work because they don’t know anything about sports is a challenging assumption to make; there are women experts, not just fans, who know their sports teams better than anyone else around.

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