How to Work Effectively Within a Corporate Cultural
Preparation For Real Life
Work Readiness and other courses for preparing teens for Real Life and The Real World of Work are significantly more effective than those that were offered to my cohort in high school.
That's because there were none when I went to high school. Teens who were not expected to succeed in college were sometimes placed into OWE - Occupational Work Experience - but these very part-time jobs during the afternoons sometimes taught very little about real life at all.
I could not work until after graduation, because I was under 18 and because my parents forbade it. Even after graduation, I had diffficulty finding a job, because I was still not 18. I was persona non grata.
A Surprise At Graduation
At our high school graduation ceremony, a businessmen in his 50s was the keynote speaker.
This gentleman, very rude and nasty before, during, and after the event, stated that the world is a hard place and that the large majority of us absolutely would not make it at all in the world. He said that there was no hope. He suggested that we would end up in jail with life sentences or homeless or dead of drug overdoses. He based this on the experiences he had had with a few students several years older then were we.
We were the younger Baby Boomers. Some of the older Boomers had become drug addicts or run to Canada to avoid the Draft during the Viet Nam Conflict and we younger students were not to be given a chance at all by the adults.
The particular adults around us had already condemned us, even the Straight A Honor Students without social lives - even though not a single case of recreational drug use had been found during the three years I attended the school. I was even told that a Straight-A report card for all three years was not good enough. I almost went to Canada myself!
When I finally obtained employmment, five months after graduation, I was stunned by the real world. I don't know that I ever recovered. Proper preparation in high school would have helped.
Culture of the Real World Of Work
When I did begin to work, I found the surreal realities of discrimination despite EEO regulations and an office in which the Corporate Culture did not make sense to me.
I found that many employees had poor math and alphabetizing skills, including some supervisors. We did not have a single calculator or dictionary on our floor, either. Most of the supervisors were male and they carried a booklet that explained how to direct women in the workforce. I read it and found that the author considered women less than human, with built-in incurable emotional and psychological problems attributable to their biology. I was stunned by all this and many other situations.
Fortunately, I was later able to work with teens and young adults ages 14 - 24 in high school and GED programs for over a decade within very effective programming for achieving success in the workplace.Through summer and year-round programming, we were able to prepare youth for the real world and employment.
We saw many of those students bumped up from "special" classes to mainstream courses. They achieved graduation and acceptance into good colleges or reasonable employment.
Many entered the Healthcare Industry. Others started their own businesses. Some went into the military long-term and found careers there. Not all were successful, but each year, over 85% of our students graduated fromm high school or earned a GED, graduated from a college or Tech School, and/or achieved long-term employment. Corporte culture does not need to blindside new, young employees. We proved that.
The Anthropology of Work
In order to determine the methods required for working successfully within in specific corporate culture, one must know the general definition of the term.
The CEO, Owner, Chairman of the Board and the cohort of Senior Management often try to establish and maintain a specific corporate culture. They set down a matrix of corporate (group) values and behavioral standards that show their objectives. In a successful company, these objectives and the culture that support them are CLEAR. If they are not clear, there is trouble and this is what you need to find out.
Reaminating Dead History
Sifting Corporate Culture: Like Digging Up Kari
There will also be the internal culture among the people working at the company, which is like a small city. If you have traveled to any other city outside your own, you may have noticed that each city has its own "personality" or "flavor" and this is true of companies as well.
Not only this, but individual teams or work-groups at work demonstrate their own behaviors as well. You may not want to be involved with all or any of these groups, because of the behaviors they maintain. You will likely not influence such groups (at least not when you first begin to work in one), but these groups will influence the larger company as a whole.
For example, IT staff use their own terminology, jargon, slang, sets of values, priorities, etc.in their work, are very important to a company, and can affect an entire corporation toward success or failure. Unfortunately, I saw a small company continue to downsize to the point at which they had only one IT person left. That person changed all system passwords, compromised company records, sold company IT equipment on the black market, removed important software programs from Senior Managements' computers, and did other atrocities, generally contributing to the company's demise. Once the company was under his rule, he placed a pornography website at the company's URL. Clients were not amused. Now, the Senior Management that remained had no higher education than a high school diploma, had no IT knowledge at all, and could do nothing about this, because the Chairman and the Board of Directors had fled and refused to meet. This is an extreme case of failure, but you get the point about a "group personality", in this case the group being "one."
If you sense a Kari-like presence at a potential workplace - RUN!
"Shall We Dance?" - Sharing Culture
Fitting Into the Culture
Can a young single mother from England fit into the Kingdom of Siam?
This 1930s radio serial type of question was the one asked by the story and film The King and I and Anna and the King of Siam. What you need to ask yourself when considering working for a new company is Can I fit into this corporate culture, and just what is this culture all about?
A company's corporate culture is a guide as to how that company's employees think, act, and feel. That last one is hard - Can my company tell me how to feel? They might try to do so.
Corporate culture is all about core values/beliefs (including feelings), corporate ethics, and rules of behavior. All this is often displayed the company's mission statement and vision statement (both of which are usually the result of strategic planning and often cost big bucks to produce), in the buildings' styles, office decor, dress codes, and how staff and management address one another. Some companies do not permit first-name basis, others encourage it. It is much like learning the etiquette when traveling abroad on business or pleasure, or when undertaking a new martial arts class.
How to Find And Use the Corporate Culture
Use your skills of research and observation to unearth the corporate culture of the company to which you apply for work. You need to research the company before your job interview anyway, so pay attention to the clues that will speak to you about corporate culture. Use a fresh copy of the checklist I have provided below for each company that interests you. During employee interviews, note information that fits into this checklist and ask questions of the interviewer about items on the checklist that are not clear. All this can help prevent corporate culture shock.
Do not, however, bring out the checklist during the actual interview, because the interviewer may feel that (s)he is being "mystery shopped" or being asked for company secrets. Some interviewers do not like job candidates to take notes at all, so ask at the start of the interview if you may do so. Always take paper and pen with you to interviews for notes, and jot down items form the checklist below that you may not remember.
Ask for a tour of the company and notice how employees interact with management and how each group interacts within itself. Notice other items on your checklist and decide if you can function and thrive within this specific corporate culture.
After you have accepted a job and begin to work, you will become more familiar with the specific cultures you find at work. You may need to work into a fit more gradually than you had expected, or Not. Importantly, use your powers of observation tro help you along, and avail yourself of the Human Resources Department. and your supervisor for help. Read about Emotional IQ on the job.
Fitting into a corporate culture is often an ongoing process, and as you move up the company position ladder in years and responsibilities, you may have a chance to influence that culture as well. This makes you not only a workplace anthropologist, but also likely a cultural engineer and politician.
Checklist for Impressions of a Corporate Culture
Archaeology Job Training & Corporate Culture Shock
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