Understanding the corporate culture


Initiative, creativity or productivity… What does your boss value most? Attune yourself to your superior’s expectations and uncover the company’s values.

All companies have a unique mission and values system. “These encourage certain types of behaviour, such as independence, initiative or team spirit,” explains Louise Rondeau, a human resources consultant and course conductor in management at Université Laval.

This expert goes on to say that when an individual’s values clash with those of the company, they often end up losing their job. Supposing, for example, that a company does not look favourably on employees making decisions on their own. Independent new workers may quickly become the thorn in their boss’ side. If you want to fit in at your new workplace, you’ve got to embrace their corporate culture. The trick is figuring it out. Here’s how:

Do your homework
As soon as your start your new job, read up about the organization. The company website, press releases and financial reports are good sources of information,” says André Raymond, Vice President of Business Development at Groupe KWA, a career management firm in Quebec City. The company mission, management philosophy and values are often set out in these documents.

Read between the lines
The company mission and values are not always written explicitly and officially. “You’ll find it in the way managers and employees act,” says Rondeau. The attitudes of co-workers and supervisors speak volumes on how to conform to the company’s unwritten rules. “If everyone at the office comes in early, stays late and brings work home, you can bet it’s because management values long work days.”

Pipe up
Got questions? Your boss is the best person to explain the company culture. “Set up a meeting with your boss and ask for the information you need,” Raymond suggests. “Ask them for specifics on what they expect from you in terms of work and attitude.” But beware: you might not like what they have to say. What if you get told to focus on quantity instead of quality? That’s when you have to remind yourself that you have your own value system. If being thorough and detailed is your M.O., you might want to look for work elsewhere.