It’s a scene we have all seen many times. A new employee begins work and at some point during their first day or two of orientation they will ask: “So how do things really work around here?” What they are really asking is, “What’s the culture of this place?” They want to know what the do’s and don’ts are, if leaders are authentic and what’s important to them, are people really as nice as they seem, what it is they need to watch out for, and so forth.
We should really all be asking that question, not just new hires. How do things really work around here?
Consider how you talk about your organization, what descriptors come to mind? Is your workplace toxic and uninspiring, or is it engaging and likable? When other people walk into your office building, what do you think they sense about your culture?
Because of the type of work I do, I regularly get the opportunity to walk through a variety of organizations. I have learned how to very quickly assess things about culture based on who greets me and how, the language used and stories told when I ask inquiring questions, and the conversations I hear, or more importantly, don’t hear.
What would someone think about your culture if they walked through your organization?
My experience is that most organizations are actually okay places to work. Yes, there are some that are extremes of the spectrum –exceptional places to work that people love to be a part of, and on the opposite end, those that are dysfunctional and toxic, and terrible places to work. But most places of work fall somewhere between these two extremes: okay – but not great.
If we want to create a workplace that is great, we must focus on culture. An organization’s culture was either intentionally created, or for better or worse, it was something that just happened and evolved over time. Creating a better culture requires us to be intentional, and it takes time and effort.