Organizational Culture is a Two-Way Street: Employees Need to Help Themselves First

Updated: May 4, 2021

According to a recent Forbes article, 4 out 5 key 2021 business trends are people related. Organizations are leveling up their engagement initiatives in reaction to the pandemic’s disruption of a traditional work environment. Culture transformation and employee engagement have become the two most prioritized subjects across companies and so begins the search for the magic formula to beat burnout, drive mental health and wellness, and find the miracle platform for virtual engagement.

While the pressure has been put on organizational leadership teams to create a sustainable and appealing space for employees, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the other side, the employee side….

Employees need to help themselves first.

There is a lot of stress put on organizations to build the right culture: a culture that supports the mission and vision, one that attracts and retains top talent, and one that is engaging. While there is opportunity in how organizations approach culture, there is also a need for the individuals working for these companies to do their own work to fit in and thrive; it is a two-way street.

If you are an individual trying to navigate your organizational culture, or if you are a cultural leader looking to help yourself and create impact in your employees’ day-to-day experience, see below for 6 ways to meet cultural change initiatives half-way:

1. Learn the Business

  • Often times employees get caught up in their daily job function and do not take the time to learn the entire business, meaning all of the separate teams that make up the whole. You may have an understanding of what other teams do and the product or service your company provides but could you really speak to the work of a department within your organization that you find to be the least interesting? An understanding of the business will help you feel more connected to your work. First, ask yourself: what is my current understanding of the whole business? What don’t I know? A clear assessment of your existing knowledge will help you to identify what you need to learn about.

  • Once you know what you don’t know, schedule time with different departments to learn about their work, this time will also help you build into relationships. Once you have met with a department head or team member, request to attend a meeting or two-this will not only help you learn the business on a deeper level but will attune you to different sub cultures and languages throughout the company.

  • Attend any type of leadership address that you can, whether it be a Town Hall or a CEO podcast, and take notes! Giving routine corporate addresses your full attention combined with detailed note taking will further solidify your understanding of the company and its big picture goals. You will also be able to connect to the content personally and find alignment between your values and goals and that of your company.

  • Get close with your HR team. They hold the keys to the proverbial castle and are the breeding ground for new company initiatives, lingo, and culture change, they are the most connected to every other team and have a broad and often times deep scope of what is really happening in a company vs. what is being presented. A relationship with your HR business partner will be a front row seat to what is working, what is not, and the direction the company is headed.

2. Ask for What You Need

  • ·Seek clarity on your role and responsibilities by constructing a list of detailed questions for your leader. Set the intention to get clear on what is expected of you.

  • Keep an open mind and be willing to do work that may be challenging if it makes you better at your job: ask questions and set up time with internal partners who can support you in developing your skillset.