When you work for a company, you soon get to know its culture. Sometimes it’s fantastic; everyone gets along great, and you pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming. Most of the time, however, company culture is in need of some improvement, if not a complete overhaul.
This is where you can help. Even if you’re not the one in the corner office, you can still have a positive impact on your work environment and company culture. Here’s how.
1. Don’t help the gossip spread
One of the worst aspects of any company culture is the rumor mill. Almost every place of employment has it. If you’re not the boss, and it’s not your place to put your foot down about stopping the spread of gossip, you can at least do your part to limit how far it goes.
The best way to do that is to stop feeding into it yourself. Don’t lean in at the water cooler when voices turn to whispers and someone is talking about a co-worker. Don’t engage. Simply say you’re not interested, and walk away. You may not be able to wipe it out entirely, but by becoming a positive influence, you may inspire others to avoid it as well. (See also: 8 Career Moves That Prove You’re Finally a Grown-Up)
2. Look at “bad” projects with a fresh perspective
Something I have personally learned from my 20+ years working in advertising is that there aren’t bad accounts. What happens is that the people working on them become jaded, relationships are strained, and they become awful to work on. Then, a new hire comes in and suddenly that account is turned around for the better, simply because the newcomer had no history with it. Use this perspective to your advantage.
What projects are just awful? Which tasks are dreaded? Which people seem to just collapse when they hear the name of a certain client or account? Take a look at it with fresh eyes. Why is it bad? Are people actively making the situation worse with a negative attitude? What can you do in the next week to turn that ship around?
3. Get in earlier and leave a little later
Remember the zip and zeal you had for the job when you first arrived? You couldn’t wait to get to your desk and dig into the work day. After a while, that get-up-and-go has got up and left, and you’re probably like most other people now. The same routine. The same habits. Why not change it up and go back to the attitude you had during the first few weeks?
Get in earlier, and be the first one to make the coffee for everyone. Do the rounds and say hi to other people as they come in (it’s amazing what a friendly smile can do to lift anyone’s spirits). Hang out a little later than usual, and when you do leave, do so with some pep in your step. You’ll be surprised at how infectious your new lease on life will be. (See also: 10 Small Gestures That Go a Long Way at Work)
4. Strive for the culture you want to have
You know that adage, “Dress for the position you want?” Well, the same applies to company culture. Rather than accepting that this is the way it is, make your actions fall in line with the culture you’d rather have.
Admittedly, it’ll be baby steps at first. You can’t suddenly start working from home three…
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