Fitting Into Your Workplace Culture: Six Tips for Acclimation
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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