What If The Company’s Culture Doesn’t Correspond To Your Needs?
Having a company culture that corresponds with your needs is incredibly important. Being in sync helps you do your best work, makes it easier for you to coordinate efforts with your coworkers, and creates a more pleasant workday experience. Being out of sync has the opposite effect and can make it difficult to survive, let alone succeed, in your career.
Note that when we talk about “company culture,” we don’t mean office foosball tourneys or the allowance to wear hoodies or the designation of an “Idea Factory” space. These are nice perks, to be sure, but company culture runs deeper.
Culture is a shared set of values and motivations that connects the people of a shared work environment. It allows them to support one another, develop professionally, and produce the best work possible.
So, what should you do if the company culture isn’t corresponding to your needs? To help you answer this question, we’ve collected five typical scenarios where a company’s culture and an employee’s expectations may not align, as well as some potential strategies for how to respond.
The Culture Doesn’t Advocate For Diversity
Your company says it advocates for diversity, but as you scan the office, the proceedings look as homogenous as the final pages of a Where’s Waldo? book. You know diversity of culture, backgrounds, and opinions can help companies stay competitive with fresh ideas, in addition to building your social network and professional growth. Something’s got to change.
What should you do? Speak with your supervisor or the head of HR. For this conversation, bring the numbers to back you up. Also, don’t make it personal: “You aren’t hiring for diversity.” Instead, discuss the trend line: “The company’s hiring practices seem to have grown stale.” Hopefully, HR realizes they’re in a rut and will widen the search.
The Company Doesn’t Promote From Within
When you were hired, your boss said the company was a great place to develop, but years later, you’re stuck at the same job in the same office with the same desk plant (though, that last one is a personal victory). Have you been catfished?
What should you do? Again, you’ll want to discuss this one with your supervisor. Remind her of the culture you discussed, learn what you need to do to pursue a promotion, and if possible, set up a timeline. If your boss still ignores your efforts, the culture you were promised is probably more of an ideal than a reality. It may be time to move on.
The Culture Is Stuck In Its Ways
Some companies talk big and claim to champions of change, but day-to-day, it’s business as usual. If your company is small, you may be able to speak with your boss and work to catalyze change yourself. If everybody decides to shake things up, you’ll have the force of the entire company propelling the culture forward.
With larger companies, however, it can be difficult to get everyone in the same state, much less on the same page. This makes company culture more difficult to budge. Unless you see a shakeup coming from the top down—say, a new CEO—this one may be a cultural cul-de-sac.
The Company Doesn’t Support You Financially
You can bring numbers to bear here, too. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics website or your state’s equivalent to learn what the average wage is for your job in your area. Keep in mind that a good estimate for the rate of inflation is 2 percent per year.
Again, this one will really depend on the size of the company. A small company can allow for more intimate conversations, and your supervisor will likely have the ear of the top executive. In large companies, such considerations may not make it high enough to affect change.
If the company culture does not support fair wages for quality talent, job-hopping may be the best option to keep yourself from sinking below the rate of inflation.
The Culture Doesn’t Support Honesty
This one may be the beginning of the end of your relationship with the company. It really depends on you and the lies being told.
Small white lies designed to motivate you and your coworkers to produce the best work—say, fibbing about a deadline to ensure on-time completion—is still a lie, but one you may be able to live with if it’s the exception, not the rule.
However, lying about company performance shows a lack of fiduciary responsibility. At this point, management is acting in its best interests, not the best interests of you or the company. A culture that accepts this kind of behavior is not one you want to be working for.
Can You Affect Change?
With all this said, no two cultures or employees are exactly alike. Your needs from a particular company will be highly individualized based on you. Our goal in exploring these scenarios is to demonstrate typical clashing points between company and employee and help you consider your personalized strategy.
The most important thing to ask yourself when choosing how to respond to your company’s culture is this: Can I influence change in some way, and if I can, will this change make the work environment better for me and my colleagues?
If the answer to both is yes, it’s worth pursuing change—just remember shifting a culture is a difficult task, and successes usually come from the top down. If the answer is no, you may be best served finding a place where you can thrive and be happy, while letting the company find someone who can do the same for it.