How to Align with Your Manager and Your Company’s Culture

05.06.2020 |

Episode #7 of the course Managing your manager by Jordan Thibodeau and Joe Ternasky


“Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got.” —Peter Drucker


Welcome back!

So far, we’ve been focusing on the importance of communication and feedback in the workplace. Let’s now explore the unspoken, omnipresent element of an organization that plays an equally important role: the culture of your company. This lesson will also explain why your manager’s sentiments toward your company’s culture might be more important than your own. It’s time to put your anthropologist hat back on and get ready to study culture.


Fitting In at Your Organization

Every organization has a prevalent culture in which all employees aim to belong and find their niche. A company’s culture consists of its overall personality, including its work environment, values, ethics, and long-term goals. Preferences as small as whether the people in your company prefer working with spreadsheets or pie charts make up the company culture. If most people in the organization prefer spreadsheets, then being down with spreadsheets and tending to apply them to company problems will quickly make you an insider in that culture. But if you prefer relational databases and keep dragging them into every situation, then you will seem like an outsider to that culture, and people will eventually wonder if you might be happier somewhere else.


Learning about a Company’s Culture Ahead of Time

Thanks to the internet, there are multiple ways for you to find out about a company’s atmosphere before you even join it:

Read the company’s website. Any organization’s website will have an About Us section that will give you an idea of the overall values and vision of the company. Here, you can often find out if the firm takes its corporate social responsibility as seriously as you’d like them to. Though keep in mind that this is how the company wants people on the outside to see them; it might not be how people inside the company actually think or behave.

Use social media to learn more about the organization. Social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Glassdoor will give you insight into not just a company’s infrastructure, but also the events that the company holds. Further, company review sites like Glassdoor will give you insights about a corporation’s internal practices, such as how its employees are treated, whether salaries are credited on time, and which employees actually have growth opportunities.

Connect with employees at the company. Another great use of social media platforms (especially LinkedIn) is the ability to connect with people on the basis of their employment. Check if you have any connections on LinkedIn who are currently working at the company. It may be a good idea to politely reach out to current or former employees to find out what the work scene is like.


Assessing Your Manager’s Fit within Your Company’s Culture

Your manager will introduce you to others in the company and ultimately be a big influence on how you think about the company, especially at the beginning of your employment. Chances are, you will mirror the sentiments your manager has toward the company, and the opinion that others have for your manager will influence how your new colleagues will see you.

Because your immediate manager is the person you answer to, knowing whether or not they fit into the company culture can have an impact on your future in the company. The following are three questions you need to reflect on regarding your manager and your company’s culture:

How is your manager treated by their peers? Is your manager treated respectfully by their superiors? Is your team respected for the work they do or ignored by other teams? The answers to these questions will impact how easily you will be able to get things done within your company.

Does your manager like your company’s culture? Your manager might not think that the company culture is important to the success of the company. For instance, they might consider it to be a harmless novelty or something to be worked around, or they could resent the company culture altogether. Does your manager enjoy participating in team-building events? Do they play any inter-departmental sports? Do they enjoy festive gift-giving events like “secret Santa”?

You need to understand both how aligned your manager is with the company culture and how extreme that alignment is: strongly aligned, weakly aligned, neutral, weakly opposed, or strongly opposed. When your manager is more closely aligned with the company culture, you have less freedom to deviate from it.

What does your manager think of your company’s bureaucracy? Your company’s bureaucracy is the sum of all the processes and procedures one must follow in order to get work done. Some managers will follow this bureaucracy very precisely and won’t tolerate any deviations, whereas other managers will loosely follow the bureaucracy but deviate when they feel it makes more sense to do so.

You should have plenty of opportunities to observe your manager first-hand, but don’t forget to look for more clues on social media. Once you’ve made friends with your teammates, they can also fill you in.


To Do

Open your Managing Your Manager Journal and complete the assignment labeled “Your Manager and Your Company Culture” by answering the questions posed in this lesson.

Initially, your manager is your tour guide to your company’s culture. Let them teach you how the culture works and endeavor to understand it deeply on your own so that when you’re a tour guide yourself one day, you will know the culture well enough to help future new employees get acquainted. In our next lesson, we will discuss how you can reach that point by making yourself invaluable to your organization.

Jordan and Joe

Managing Your Manager Teachers


Recommended book

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle


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