How To Help A New Employee Understand The Culture Of An Organization

Culture is NOT the “unwritten laws” of an organization that people follow because they know “that’s the way things are done around here”; the subliminal “understandings” that explain what people do and how they do it.

Culture is not an outcome of employee dynamics.

Culture is a thoughtful, carefully crafted topology of how individuals MUST engage together if the organization is to succeed.

Culture is driven by two factors: what the organization is trying to achieve – strategy – and the means to mobilize it’s people to work together to achieve the strategy – values.

A new employee needs to understand both in order to “get” the culture of the organization.

Without strategy and values, the new employee is virtually in a vacuum with only the noise and biased opinions of bosses and colleagues to provide their view of culture.

To get culture understanding off on the right foot for a new employee, first crystallize your strategic game plan into the critical actions that must be taken to deliver the strategic goals of the organization (it’s a “game plan” because it’s focused on execution rather than lofty helium-filled intent).

Define the top 3 overall objectives that must be achieved rather than a list of 20 things; people – especially NEW employees – need to be focused on the critically few things to, not be presented with a grocery list of relevant activities.

Translate these objectives into the role the employee is expected to play and the deliverables they must produce. This is a critical task of leadership. A new employee must hear “from the horse’s mouth” what specific role they must play; what critical deliverables they must produce.

Once the “what” – strategy – has been explained to the newbie, the “HOW” – values – must also be delivered. Values describe how employees are expected to work together to produce the expected strategic outcomes.

Values are strategic. They define the attributes of the employee team – the dynamics it must display – necessary to “live” the organization’s strategic purpose.

This is a great example of defining both strategy and the people behaviours necessary to execute it. With this one-pager, a one-on-one leader conversation with a new employee will be extremely effective in making clear the culture of the organization and motivating the individual to help execute it.

To be effective orienting a new employee must be meticulous and detailed, not a high level conversation. If not they won’t get your culture and you won’t get an employee in tune with your purpose.

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