Adjusting to a New Workplace: Playing the Culture Game
By: Megan Kirsch
Landing a new job is an exciting and often intimidating career milestone – everything is new, and seemingly unfamiliar. The first few months are dedicated to learning a different role, becoming acclimated to a new environment and getting to know colleagues. However, one of the most critical pieces that employers often overlook in the onboarding experience is setting expectations and offering clarity around company culture. Here are few tips to help you in playing the culture game at your new organization:
- Think, watch, observe. In order to fully understand your new company culture, it can be helpful to identify similarities and differences from your previous company. Do colleagues take lunch breaks off-site or prefer to eat at their desks? Is it common for the team to celebrate birthdays in the office? What does that look like? Observing and identifying these standards will help you acclimate much quicker.
- Lean into the discomfort. While you take the time to think, watch, and observe the similarities and differences from your previous company, it’s completely normal to experience a certain level of discomfort. As you become an integral member of the team, being open to different experiences and conversations helps build rapport with new colleagues, establishes a stronger foundation for relationships, and fosters trust on teams. If going out for happy hour wasn’t part of your previous company culture but seems to be a regular occurrence at your new organization, this may be a good opportunity to unwind and get to know your colleagues on a more personal level – outside of the office.
- Ask questions. There’s no better time like the present, and now is the perfect time to be inquisitive about company policies and get to know your team members. When the company handbook reads “untracked vacation”, what does that really mean? Do your colleagues take advantage of this company-wide perk, or is it an unspoken “rule” that you stay within the confines of two weeks? Which team members calendar block as a form of time management? Getting to know the preferred working styles of new team members sets joint expectations and can also add a layer of regard for boundaries.
What are some tips you have for adjusting to a new workplace culture? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!