Friday, September 3, 2010

Fitting in with the Company Culture

It's not enough to do your job. It's not even enough to be great at your job. If you cannot fit in to the company culture, your career will stall out.

That's the slightly discouraging word from Forbes. Link here.

Offices have their own rituals. They create solidarity by involving everyone in the rituals. It may be mini-birthday parties or nights out carousing.

The rituals may seem empty. They may even offend your own sensibility and habits. It doesn't matter. If you want to be part of the group, and that involves eventually assuming leadership within the group, you must participate.

It may involve downing cheap champagne and cupcakes to celebrate someone's birthday. It may involve throwing a few dollars into the office Super Bowl pool.

These rituals are usually not excessively demanding. But that means that a failure to participate will be read by everyone else as a sign that you do not feel like a part of the group, that you do not really identify with the good of the company, and that you do not want to take on more responsibility within it.

As Forbes noted, it does happen that some cultures are so vulgar or so alien to your values that you cannot participate in their rituals. Think of Liar's Poker. It is best to know this before taking the job, but, if you discover it later, you need to start looking seriously for a new job.

If anyone told you that it was sufficient just to do a great job, they were misleading you. Surely, if anyone told you that you would be able to actualize all of your individual potential on your job, they were giving you very bad advice.

The sad truth is, that you must participate in these rituals, even if you do not care, even if your heart is not in it, even if they feel like an utter waste of time.

This all sounds rather Confucian. You recall that the great Chinese sage posited that communities hold together because people perform rituals and ceremonies. And that it does not matter whether you know why you are doing it; you must still do it.

Perhaps the knowledge that you are advancing your career and producing a more cohesive team and better teamwork will help you to participate, even when you do not want to.

Because Confucius also said that the more often you participate in these rituals the more likely it is that they will start making sense to you. And thus that your participation will gain a feeling of sincerity.


Obsidian said...

Hi Doc,
Longtime no hear! How are you? I've been meaning to comment a bit more than I have thus far, as I do try to read your blog regularly. Good stuff!

With regard to the current topic, I've written about a very related topic that I'd love to get your and your readers' take on. Here's the link:

Holla back



And this is why I never even attempted to fit in with Corporate America. I simply cannot fake it.

I live by integrity, which is my authenticity.

I also feel that professional life and social life should be seperate.

If it is taboo do date a co-worker in Corporate America, after hours "carousing" should also be taboo.

Work is work. Play is play. Employees should not be expected to go to games or parties or eat or drink thinks that may go against their religious beliefs or personal ethics.

If workers ARE required to socialize after hours with with work colleagues, then they should be PAID overtime for it.

Corporate America sucks at least eight hours of their day from them, and STILL they want more in the form of "carousing"?

What the hell?

An Unmarried Man said...

I flaunt my alienation at work. I do my best to remain the outsider and I have reaped the rewards (meaning, no rewards). Kissing ass and pretending to have anything in common with your boss is de rigeur in the modern office environment for those who delude themselves that promotion will buy happiness and satisfaction.