Corporate culture is the flavor of your professional ice cream.
We all order from the same counter, but we each create a unique taste from the shared experience. Who doesn't have strong feelings about pistachio versus rocky road? Samsung versus Apple? Even if we do combine them all in a gummy bear-topped cheat day indulgence.
Before you started at your current role, you investigated the company culture. Regardless of your role or your intentions, upon arrival, your primary task was acclimating. First you learned the why’s and how’s. You had to accept the existing culture while you got your bearings. But you’re not a newbie anymore. It's time for the next step.
Step forward to help shape the organizational culture that attracted you in the first place.
Just as you continuously learn and adapt throughout life, so does a healthy organizational culture. One metric of healthy organizational culture is how authentic it feels to employees. That authenticity depends on how organizational culture is shaped by its participants just as much as the business model that conceived it.
Not sure where to start? Here are 5 ready-to-roll options for engaging with and helping to shape your organization’s culture today.
1–Affinity groups use a shared cause as a platform for networking as well as influencing organizational culture.
Intersectionality people. There’s an affinity group for everyone. If you can’t find yours, that means you’re the founder of that group. Affinity groups are great for guest speakers, panel discussions and networking events. Professional development, often with snacks, and the built-in icebreaker of a shared cause.
Affinity groups may seem focused on their own mission. But these groups exert a powerful influence on organizational culture. Their reach often extends beyond their members. The D&I initiatives of affinity groups help evolve corporate culture.
2–Extra-curricular groups and meetups
Affinity groups focus on diversity and inclusion, but there are more lighthearted expressions of corporate culture. For example, even the most Brahmin of Boston investment managers participate in an industry softball league.
Many companies offer some level of sponsorship for extracurricular meetups and groups that promote company values. This could be volunteering in local parks for Earth Day. Or starting a walking program that rewards teams for their group step count. Marathoners, triathletes, Spartans and Tough Mudders: think about running as a team for a charity; or, give a Slack shout-out to find out who you’ll see on race day.
Organizational culture is a composite reflection of the people who implement it. This is seen how we function as a team, but also in individual interactions.
Mentor programs focus on individual development in the context of the organization’s mission and strategy. And, as any good mentor will tell you, these relationships personal, professional and organizational are two-way streets for optimization.
Holiday parties run the gamut from extravagant productions to non-existent; but where there’s a party, there’s a planner who can use an extra hand. And you’d be surprised who you might find yourself mulling over themes with or putting together goody bags with.
5–Nothing suits? Talk to your manager.
That’s a 2-fer:
1–Your manager knows what you’re into and they know the company. So, they're great at spotting intersections of 'this-is-cool' for both you and your company's culture.
2–Bonus points for you, and jackpot bonus points for when your contributions become visible in other areas of the company. Represent.
There are countless ways that you can help craft your organization's flavor profile. Click here to learn more about the next WESTevent, a panel discussion about "Building Your Company Culture and Developing Your People” as an employee, manager or executive.