Company Culture 101

Company culture is important. There are few people out there who aren’t affected by the environment that surrounds them at work. Company culture involves things like: mission, vision, values (envisioned & practiced), goals, how the manager/boss/president/CEO runs the workplace, and so many more things. Company culture influences how you do your work and potentially who you work with. If you are someone whose productivity and happiness are strongly influenced by the environment around you, you will want to invest a decent amount of energy into investigating the type of company culture you’ll need to succeed at your job or internship. And sometimes, you need to experience a certain environment to figure out that it doesn’t work for you.

Company Culture KY

Here are a few articles to get you started on how to discover the company culture that works for you:

Assimilating into a New Workforce

By: Michael

Anyone starting a new job knows the awkward beginnings of trying to fit into a new work culture. Business majors talk about it all the time, but it applies to everyone. I started my internship with McGladrey in early January, nearly going through what sociologists like to call culture shock. When you start a new job, you’re faced with a multitude of new coworkers, who are each their individual person and likewise affect that culture. So how do you start the assimilation process and make your own place in the company or business? It might take some time, but eventually getting to know your co-workers and finding connections can be very rewarding both in a career sense and in a personal sense.

When I started with McGladrey it was my first exposure working for a national company, and every year they send new hires and interns from all over the country to go through a weeklong training program in St. Charles, Illinois. During orientation, I heard about the ‘company culture’ frequently. So what is it exactly? Here are the basics:

  1. A mission statement that defines the goals and aspirations of a company
  2. An established level of power distance between you and those in higher positions within the company
  3. The clientele focus
  4. The type of work performed
  5. The individual personalities that the company seeks

Now you’ve all heard it before, the cliché action verbs that everyone wants to put on their resume to try to stand out as a go-getter, an achiever, or someone with a keen eye for detail. All of this might stand out on your resume and get you to that interview, but to really lock in that job and prove that you would be a good fit for whatever job you are applying for you need to do your research and put yourself out there. Networking makes all the difference; it gives you a chance to meet your potential coworkers. Understanding a company’s mission when you walk in that door for your interview makes all the difference in the world. After all, how can you comfortably apply for a company and expect to be a good fit when you know nothing about it?

Company culture

One thing I’ve learned with McGladrey is that there is a surprisingly low amount of power distance in the hierarchy. On my first day I was meeting with senior associates and partners whom I now work with on a daily basis. It was intimidating at first, but I knew right away that in order to survive the tax season as a tax accountant, I would need to work very closely with everyone around me. Every day I get assignments that I collaborate on with different people in the office. In a job like this, you have to be personable and you have to be humble, especially in an internship. I was told on a number of occasions that when McGladrey hires new interns, they assume that we know nothing and that we would have to learn everything. I once was told at our Christmas party that in the past, the interns who didn’t get a full time offer were the ones that didn’t exercise those exact traits. Remember, this is a new culture, you don’t really know anyone, you haven’t worked with them, and you are expected to put yourself out there and fit in. I’m not telling you to change who you are as a person, in many cases people discover that the company or its culture just aren’t for them. Public accounting in a nutshell has a surprisingly high turnover rate, probably because of the demanding atmosphere, especially during tax season.

On a final note, my tips to a relatively smooth transition into a new job are these:

  • Try to meet everyone you can right away, talk to everyone, introduce yourself
  • Do your best to attend and participate in outside-work activities
  • Ask questions, never assume things about the work environment if you don’t know
  • Never underestimate the usefulness of reading up or researching current happenings within the company (for example, McGladrey sends out a weekly newsletter and I make sure to put aside some time to browse through it)

For any of you starting a new job or internship soon, or are beginning their interviews for the summer: Good luck!

Of possible interest:

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Office Etiquette: Part 1

By: Ashlee

With great gain comes a bit of sacrifice. That’s how the saying goes, right? It’s certainly been true for me. Within the next few weeks, my office will be incredibly hectic as we pack and prepare to move from one location to another. The great gain from this move? I’m getting my own office! I couldn’t be more excited about this, but there’s still a ways to go before my office will become my office, if you get what I mean. During this transition, I now have to share my current workspace. See, I’m someone who likes to spread her work out, and to suddenly have a second body practically right on top of you takes a bit of adjusting. My current office space isn’t all that spacious, so to suddenly have a roommate of sorts has been trying.

office etiquette

When you’re sharing that close of quarters with someone, no matter how short a period of time, there are certain guidelines one needs to respect and I’ve learned about them quickly in the past few weeks.

Rule #1: Think Before You Speak
Seems like such a simple rule, right? Think again. While your friends might get your dry sense of humor or recognize your sarcastic tone, it’s probably not a bad idea to keep these personality quirks in check while getting to know a new coworker, especially one who is within hearing range of your mid-day mutterings. It’s like going on a first date. You don’t show every weird quirk you have immediately. Warm up to them first, and then let your wild side out.

Rule #2: Be a Team Player
Many companies are short-staffed, which means everybody, and I mean everybody, needs to take on a larger workload. Don’t push your responsibilities onto somebody else. It will only put a bigger burden on them and cause their stress levels to rise a notch or two. You want to look forward to walking into the office every day, not cringe at the memory of the pile still left on your desk from yesterday thanks to your office mate and their diligent task of trash basketball.

Rule #3: Respect a Closed Door
If a coworker has a door shut, stay out. Even if they don’t look like they’re busy at the moment, give them their space. The door is shut for a reason. Heed this rule if you also see them talking on the phone. They already have something on their mind, and you don’t want to distract them further.

Rule #4: Skip the Childish Pranks
Any joke made at your coworker’s expense probably isn’t all that funny. It’s even worse if it costs you a client. While it’s good to have a fun and inside jokes type of coworker, especially when they are literally over your shoulder, don’t let it get in the way of your work or you’ll both deal with the consequences.

Rule #5: Take a Breath Before You Hit ‘Send’
You need to get a hold of someone. What do you do? I bet you head straight for your email before picking up the phone. I agree it is easier to shoot off a quick email than face the possibility of losing control in a face-to-face encounter. But be aware! Once that email is sent to a coworker (or to or from a work email account) it becomes company property. Don’t say something you may regret minutes after hitting that infamous ‘send’ button. Emails also run the risk of getting things misinterpreted. Save the drama, and walk down the hall to the person’s office, and hash it out verbally. It may prove quicker than an email, especially if the problem at hand is about who’s turn it is to wash the kitchen coffee pot.

Of Possible Interest: 

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Who to Know Around the Office

By: Ashlee

While I may not be crunching numbers for Final Exams, I have been doing my own sort of studying: the studying of my coworkers, and others who come and go from our office area daily. Getting to know coworkers and understanding their roles around the office helps you create a friendly and welcoming work environment, plus you also get to know them and the skill sets they possess. There are at least seven specific people you want to keep on your radar, according to a few powerful women and career experts.

Who to know in the office

1.)  The Intern/Student Workers: They may just be students now, but they’ll be joining the workforce sooner than you think. Five or ten years down the road? They’re going to be working men and women, as well as your colleagues. In fact, it’s a possibility they might become your “in” to your dream job at your dream company.

2.)  The Office Gossip: Oh yes, they exist everywhere you go. There will be moments where you want to tell them to go away so you can get some work done (because they never seem to be at their desks to do some!), but be nice. While they might annoy, they know things, like who’s leaving for another job, who’s being promoted…things you might like to know about so you can smartly strategize your next career move. By no means should you chime in when they bring the next juicy bit around to your desk, but certainly listen up when they talk, says Nicole Williams, founder of WORKS.

3.)  The I.T. Guru: Being the I.T. (information technology) person at any job can be a pretty thankless job. It seems the only time people want to talk to you is when their computer is going up in smoke. The I.T. department is one area to befriend. Kindness goes a long way, and it just might help you get your problems fixed sooner along with being told a few tips on how to avoid the same problems in the future. Fewer problems means more work can be accomplished, and more time is available for brainstorming new ideas!

4.)  The Office Manager: This seems like a no-brainer. They might be able to give you a heads-up on upcoming job openings and other happenings around the office. They also most likely order the supplies, keeping the office equipped with everything needed on a day-to-day basis, and the things you need for that special project (Go you!).

5.)  The Developer: While working diligently on that report for your boss, you’re suddenly inspired with an idea for a new software app that surely would benefit the company. The downside? It requires a ton of legwork to get it up and running. The problem? The developer – like I.T. – always has a ton of projects happening and their workload never seems to end. Get to know your website developers. Another benefit of working closely with developers? They usually work closely with management teams, and they might spread the word about how good your project is and how great you were to work with on it, says Janeesa Hollingshead, marketing manager for the start-up

6.)  The male/female colleague: You certainly want to make friends with the men and women sitting in the desks and cubicles around you. Getting the perspective of a trusted and platonic coworker can give you a different perspective you need to work through the problems of your job and any project you’re slaving away on.

7.)  The Boss’s Assistant: Picture yourself in that cushy corner office? Your best bet to sitting behind that desk one day is to be on good terms with the boss’s assistant, says career coach Isha Cogborn. This boss’s assistant is usually super-organized and knows every booking within the boss’s calendar. They’re the person to talk to when you need to meet with your boss face-to-face, and more than likely, the boss’s assistant will be present to take notes, too. If they like you well enough, they’ll be more likely to work out details with you and maybe even bump you up on the boss’s calendar.

Regardless of their position, be friendly and respectful of every person in your work environment, including the mail carrier who stops in at least once a day, every day.  These are the people you work with, and you want your work environment to be a place you look forward to coming to every day.  Being able to joke with a coworker or two also takes the edge off a hard day.

Of Possible Interest: 

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