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Fitting Into Your Workplace Culture: Six Tips for Acclimation

Apr 27, 2011 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 4 Comments

Fitting in is a big part of succeeding at your first job after graduation. And workplace cultures can vary. Some are very casual; some are highly competitive; and others are hierarchical and corporate. If you’re not a natural fit for your job, fitting in may just be a matter of observing your workplace more closely—and taking deliberate steps to modify your behavior. Here are a few tips for fitting in at your first job.

Dress appropriately

One of the first aspects of fitting in with your workplace culture is looking like everyone else—or like your leadership, if you want to move up. It’s important to dress according to the office code. This is more than just following the official dress code laid down in the handbook. Take a look at how people dress in your office—including your boss. Is it formal or more casual? Does it clash with the overall dress code of the company? If you’re a sweater-and-khakis person and your department is full of suits, consider making your work wardrobe more formal.

Notice how people communicate

Workplace Meeting

Key things to pay attention to include the way people dress, how they communicate, how they compete, how social your office is, and the schedules your coworkers keep.

 

 

Do people in your office prefer to email or call each other—even if they work just across the hall? Or are they more of the stop-in-and-catch-up type? Even if you’d rather email and your coworkers are more social, make an effort to stop by in person when you need to talk to someone. Or try to keep your communications over email if that’s how people usually talk in your office.

Work on the same schedule as others

In some workplaces , most people stick to a traditional nine-to-five schedule. In others, there’s an unspoken rule about staying late to make up an hour spent at lunch, staying as late as the boss stays, or getting in extra early. Observe when your coworkers get in. Even if the handbook says you can get in as late as ten as long as you stay late, if your coworkers are all getting in at eight, you’ll make yourself stand out. Try to adjust your schedule to conform to what others in the office are doing.

Assess pace and competitiveness

How competitive is your office? Are people encouraged to participate in incentive programs? Maybe you don’t officially have to compete, but a lot of people in your office do. Even if you’re more a collaborator than a competitor, try to put more enthusiasm into the competition at your office. If you do, you’ll be more likely to fit in.

Be social

How social is your office? Do your coworkers go out for drinks after work, get lunch together, or organize fundraisers at the office? If so, it can make a big difference if you join in—at least once in a while. If you head home right after work or prefer to have lunch alone, it can come off as antisocial—even if you just prefer to unwind at lunch by yourself rather than interact with others. Put forth an effort to join in on group activities, and you’ll fit in better at this type of office.

Fitting in has a lot to do with observation skills. Take a look at your workplace culture and try to spot the patterns of behavior among your coworkers. Key things to pay attention to include the way people dress, how they communicate, how they compete, how social your office is, and the schedules your coworkers keep. If you can find a way to adjust your behavior to mesh better with these principles at work, you’re much more likely to fit in well at your workplace.

Sources

Comments:

Libbyrinn Over a year ago

This applies to most situations in life

Nikki Burke Over a year ago

This is a great article that can be used outside of the workplace as well. It is very inportant to be enthusiastic about what every you do :)

M Coleman Over a year ago

I hope no one reads this article and takes it serious. I am working on a PhD in industrial organizational psychology and have never seen any research that supports this advice. In fact there is a theory called person-job fit in which researchers have found significant evidence that it is better for employees to pursue work and work cultures that match their personalities rather than changing their behavior to "fit in." If you don't "fit in" at your job, you probably don't belong there. Adjusting behavior is called faking, and faking eventually takes a heavy toll on employee health and well-being.

Nestor Lucas Over a year ago

In summary; BE A ROBOT!

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