Workplace culture represents the ideology of an IT organization. It serves as a defining factor in gauging an employee’s ability to adjust and adapt to the needs and necessities of an organization. For instance, many technical support companies in India have a 24/7 work culture where weekends and public holidays are restricted and may vary according to business requirements.
It’s imperative for employees to understand their organization’s work culture and to abide by it. If an employee is unable meet the business requirements owing to difficulty in adjusting within an organization’s culture, also popularly known as culture shock, it will become increasingly difficult to fit in resulting in problems for all.
A common practice with many Indian IT companies is to hire employees on a part-time or temporary basis in order to monitor their work ethic, style and personality to ensure a good fit before offering them a full time job. As a part of an organization’s “Belts and Braces” approach, even permanent employees are often put on a probationary period during which their work is under close supervision and vigilance.
To get a full-time regular job, one must prove that their character and abilities are in line with an organization’s established performance standards. To achieve the same, and successfully see off the trial period, it’s a point of paramount significance to understand an organization’s work culture.
To help prospective and new employees fit into an organization’s culture and succeed, there are a few key rules to follow in the initial phase of employment:
Know Your Role
New and prospective employees oftentimes focus too much on career questions like: How will the job treat me? Will I be able to grow as a professional? Have I made the right choice? Ideally the emphasis should be on understanding the new job’s role and responsibilities well enough to be able to work independently. A good employee is someone who doesn’t need to be told what to do all the time.
An employee’s work is judged on the basis of fulfilment of the key roles aligned. This is referred to as Key Result Areas (KRA) in the corporate world. Make certain you understand your responsibilities, ask questions when needed and work hard to exceed expectations.
Build Professional Relationships
IT is all about teamwork. A good team player establishes positive working relationships with colleagues and especially with supervisors. To develop a healthy relationship at work one needs to be involved with other employees. Show them that you’re a team player and not a threat — that you’re ready to work, willing to do what it takes to get the job done and supportive of the organization’s efforts and goals.
Regularly ask team members’ opinions on projects when needed. People generally like it when you ask for their help and advice. Remember to always share and give credit where it’s due; you can get anything done if you don’t care who gets the credit.
Don’t overlook networking with colleagues. You can build relationships during breaks, at lunches, or on outside work activities. Being social is a great way to get to know other team members.
When dealing with supervisors, seek regular feedback about your performance. If something needs to improve, improve it. When appropriate, discuss issues and new ideas relative to work. Your goal is to always exhibit good behaviour and at the same time jell with the team.
Have a Disciplined Approach
Micromanagement is common in many IT companies in India — junior-level employees and part-time workers are closely monitored. It is crucial that employees be appropriately clinical and thoroughly disciplined during this phase. Not doing so can severely impact their chances of getting a permanent or higher position. Always adhere to company guidelines and work polices. Be professional, be punctual and complete assigned tasks on time.
Micromanagement can be frustrating and cause new employees to feel management has no faith in their abilities. It often leads to employees feeling demoralized and becoming disengaged. It may even lead to outrageous responses at times. Employees must avoid engaging in such behaviour; doing so will severely degrade an employee’s reputation and career opportunities.
It’s best to view micromanagement from above as a phase that will eventually pass as you grow in your roles and responsibilities.
Keep Up with the Latest IT Trends
Oh no! You’re a certified Java professional and the team lead for a Java programming project. After enjoying the lead role for five years, you suddenly realize that asp.net is the next big thing! What do you do? Leave your job? Hopefully not!
The bottom line is: Don’t just bank upon your current level of IT expertise and skillset. Change is inevitable! Keep learning new technologies, preferably with industry certifications. My rule-of-thumb is that one should spend at least 20 percent of their earnings in self-skill development, or a proportionate amount as per their ability to spend.
Understand your job’s current needs and anticipate possible future needs. Take courses, attend workshops, join on-line groups; just keep learning and improving.
You just got a promotion and an overseas opportunity to go with it. Unfortunately, due to outside financial factors, the company could not give you a salary hike. What do you do? Resign and move on? Well, that’s one option, but it’s not always the correct one.
Be patient and work to understand the situation before making any major decision. There are always unfavourable events during one’s tenure. Remember to focus on the bigger picture. You still got that promotion and the overseas opportunity which may provide you a great deal of exposure. Just work hard, do your best and the pay raises will eventually follow and normalize.
Perform at Your Best
Companies are always expecting employees to do more with less. With growth in your job role and stature, there is always an accompanying increase in expectations that you will deliver every single time; often expected to do so without any scope for error.
Besides knowledge one must give equal importance to job delivery, i.e. the ability to drive a particular project, client interactions, abiding with the timelines, having an error free approach, etc. Set an example for others by showing up on time ready and willing to work hard.
Maintain Work Life Balance
Many IT companies in India require employees to work 10-hour days, which is significantly higher than foreign companies where typical workdays are six to eight hours. Work is great, but it’s important to strike the right work/life balance in order to avoid loss of interest and burnout at work.
You can respect and meet your company’s culture and work needs while still keeping a healthy work/life balance by doing some of the following:
- Make your job enjoyable. Find aspects that appeal to you and expand on them. Learn new tasks and take on new responsibilities to grow your skill-set. There are reasons you went into this field, remember them and look for related opportunities.
- Set boundaries between your work and personal life. Work doesn’t last forever, but your relationships with people do. Take time to be with family and friends and foster those connections. Try not to take your work home with you. When you’re at work, be at work; when you’re home, be home.
- Pick up a new hobby or other outside fun activity. Focusing on other enjoyable things helps clear your mind and recharge your batteries.
This is all good advice for new employees, but does it apply as well to regular employees placed at good, highly-paid positions in the company? Do they not need to worry about their organization’s work culture anymore? Is there no need to be tolerant towards colleagues and follow a disciplined approach? It is now more important than ever.
Truth be told, the need to understand the work culture escalates as one grows within an organization. From a junior to a senior level one transits from being an “employee” of an organization to being a “representative” of an organization.
Abiding with the work culture is good for the business, good for the employees, and ultimately helps you meet your customer’s needs.