Thought Leadership Blog
By Jennifer Turner, Business Analyst – Operations, Port Authority
The current COVID-19 crisis has challenged companies unlike anything in the last 20 years. It has pushed CEOs to become great leaders, staff to work together in new ways, and has questioned the corporate culture of many organizations.
What if your company’s corporate values are not aligning with your own culture? As the late great Kenny Rogers stated, “You need to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.”
First let’s take a step back and define corporate culture. According to The Society of Human Relation Management, “Organizational culture can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including leadership behaviors, communication styles, internally distributed messages and corporate celebrations.” With so many different aspects creating corporate culture, many different terms have come to describe a company’s culture: customer-focused, innovative, fun, family-friendly, aggressive…just to name a few.
But no matter what culture you are examining, at the heart of all are values. Corporate value can be boiled down to seven basic categories: outcome orientation, people orientation, team orientation, attention to detail, stability, innovation and aggressiveness.
To determine if you are going to fit into a corporate culture, you must take a step back and ask yourself, “What do I value?” This should be something you know before accepting your position, however, what if you realize that the culture is not compatible after you start? What do you do next?
Step 1: Understand your Problem
As the terror and dread sets in of working in a culture that doesn’t align with your values indefinitely – and before you book yourself an expensive therapy appointment – ask yourself why. Determining why you are feeling unsettled can resolve the issue quickly before you experience burn out. If you are a new employee, it will give you an opportunity to walk away before you are “handcuffed” financially to the position.
Taking a few minutes to self-reflect is an extremely valuable tool at this stage of the problem. Ask yourself, “Am I really at odds with the company’s values, or am I just uncomfortable with being challenged?” Once you discover this it can lead to professional and personal growth and development.
Step 2: Take Action
This is the put up or shut up stage of the game. What if you enjoy your job and are good at it? How do you know when you should bail and when you should grit your teeth and stick it out? According to consultant and executive coach Margo Fawler, “I would ask myself: Is this an inconvenience, or is this a problem? Is what I’m encountering affecting my ability to be successful in my job?” If the answer is no, it will likely be easier to stay.
Keep in mind, if you choose to stay you will still be facing an uphill battle, but there are some techniques you can use to influence your surrounding corporate culture. For instance, you can request to work remotely with more independent work. You can also influence your department with new, innovative ideas and try to show how some changes could be good for everyone.
But if these ideas are not taken well, this extra effort could lead to burn-out at a much faster rate. If it doesn’t look like things are going to change, this is the point where you have to decide to either adapt to the culture or separate from it. You cannot be successful or satisfied by choosing to “Quit and Stay.”
Step 3: Learn from Your Experience
Falling for the wrong corporate culture is easy to do. With promises of bigger pay, more responsibility and better benefits, it is easy to put your own values aside and think you can adapt to your new norm. In the end, the square peg will never fit into the circle hole, and it will only lead to burn-out and frustration.
To avoid making this a pattern, you must be open and honest with yourself about your values. When interviewing for new positions do not be afraid to interview your interviewers about their management style and culture. You need to make sure this is an environment for you to thrive and achieve all your professional aspirations. Do not be afraid to stand firm to your values.
If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything it may be that it is incredibly important to stay true to our values. It is a lot easier to stand with a company whose values you understand and are proud to serve them as an employee. During this unprecedented time, whether you are looking for a new position or have realized your vision does not align to your company, stay true to your values and success and satisfaction will follow.