Work culture has become an important factor whenever you want to build a great organisation. It has also become an important decision factor when people change jobs.
You can have all the right strategy in the world, but if you don’t have the right culture, you’re dead — Patrick Whitesell
But, what does work culture actually mean?
A quick google search resulted in this
“Work culture is the sum of values, traditions, beliefs, and interactions of a company. It also defines the behaviour and attitude of employees of the company.”
When I started my career fresh out of college I was working for a Giant Multinational Firm. Massive offices, crazy food courts, tempting infrastructure, amazing facilities. It almost felt like entering a 5 star hotel everyday. But after a month when I was settled down and started working, I realised there was a lot more when it comes to work culture apart from all the above fancy looking stuff. There were certain toxic things happening around me which I was unable to absorb. It was making me uncomfortable. Few examples to describe:
- No one welcomed new joinees properly. It was just a task for the senior-most person in the team to just formally introduce new people with the rest of the team and then overload them with work.
- People always were just gossiping about their managers, their colleagues during tea, coffee, lunch breaks. Few of them were cribbing about their work.
- Dual faced personalities, you can’t trust these kinds of people.
After a while I realised I’ve to be cautious about everything. Whenever I used to talk to people I had to be very picky about my words. I can’t trust my colleagues which means I can’t share anything with them. I was not able to be myself when talking or discussing anything with my colleagues.
I then realised that this is not the environment I would like to work in. I was more depressed thinking about that is this how our industry works? I started reading about it a bit and then realised this is what defines a work culture of a company and I decided to quit after being 4 months into that company.
P.S. This is just about my bad experience. This has nothing to do specifically about big companies
I then joined a very early staged startup in the hope that astartup will have a good work culture because you can control things at a small scale as opposed to a giant company where thousands of people work. When I joined we were about 30 people team. Soon after I joined we started growing both in terms of business as well as team size. And since we were growing I started seeing a glimpse of the same things as my previous company. I started worrying again. I sat for a while and thought about it. What’s wrong? Is there something wrong with me or is this how organisations work?
Soon I realised maybe this is normal for other people and that’s why they can’t see it but it’s definitely not for me. Hence to fix this problem I started fix things within my team and after sometime It started working out I was able to realise what does work culture means and why is it important. After that I joined Treebo which gave me a whole different perspective of work culture and I was amazed. And once I decided to move on from Treebo it was very difficult to find a similar work culture. My first and the foremost concern was work culture and I used the interview process as a way to figure companies work culture and if I’ll be comfortable working in that work culture. And I’m pretty much happy that Razorpay turned out to be that place after Treebo.
I’ll list down what are some of the things I’ve witnessed and also contributed that defines a good work culture.
- Try to be humble towards everyone in the company. Whether you’re interviewing someone or whether you’re in any discussion. Just stay calm and control your temper. Heated conversation just creates differences nothing else. Be a nice human.
- If someone made a mistake rather than getting angry on them just try to be humble and help them understand what went wrong, what they could have done better, why it didn’t work out this way. Tell them It’s ok to make mistakes. No one was born to be perfect.
- You like your colleagues work? Let them know. Appreciate their good work. Trust me it boosts their morale.
- You want your colleagues to improve/grow? Give them regular feedbacks. You don’t have to be a manager or a senior to give feedbacks.
- There’s no rule that says that you can’t give feedbacks to senior folks or managers. They are humans too so they make mistakes as well. Good managers and seniors are always open enough to take feedbacks.
- If you want to grow explicitly ask for feedbacks if you’re not getting one already. There’s no harm in asking for feedbacks.
P.S Feedbacks are never meant to point out your mistakes
- If someone didn’t agree to your ideas it’s fine maybe you could try to find better ways to communicate your ideas. Try again. Take a different perspective to communicate your ideas.
- If you wanted to bring in a change but no one is agreeing to you then there could be 2 things - either you’re trying to bring in a change that’s not required or the other person was not able to understand the importance of the change you want to bring in. Try to work on it. Brining a change doesn’t happen overnight it takes time but the results are always gratifying.
- If you find someone in the team cribbing about others just stop them and help them to be positive about others. This helps reduce friction and differences amongst the team members and helps build strong bonding gradually.
- If you crib about your own work then stop! Find out what might work out that would help you boost your morale, discuss it with your mentors, discuss it with your managers, discuss it with your colleagues, discuss it with someone you believe in and it will definitely work out.
Always be welcoming
- Remember the last time you entered a new organisation, it was your first day and how everything was awkward? It happens to all of us. Now imagine if someone who has joined your company and you’re gonna work together in the same team and if you could help them settle down and be with them for initial 2-3 days they will be honoured and feel so much welcoming.
Create space for everyone
- If you’re the senior person in the team then it’s your responsibility to groom your team members, your colleagues, give them enough space and flexibility to make mistakes that they can grow because they look upto you as their mentors.
- If you want to grow yourself just identify your potential, work on it and never step toes on your peers. You can’t grow by pulling someone down.
- Don’t create a toxic environment. Don’t bring in practices that spoils the whole work culture. For ex: Working for long hours and then spoiling the culture slowly for the whole company because you think long working hours is equivalent to growth. It’s not!
- Long working hours gives you a promotion. It doesn’t. Even if it does then it’s not worthy. Its a bait!
- Working for long hours can please your boss, It doesn’t. Even if it does it’s not gonna lead you anywhere.
- You’re a junior in the team so you can’t bring in a change only a senior can. This is completely a wrong statement. Your age or number of years of experience never justifies the change you want to bring in.
Closing Notes 📝
Work culture is made up of multiple pieces. Work culture cannot be changed overnight. It’s a collaborative effort from everyone in the organisation and an evolving process that takes time. Free food, Game nights, Friday activities, Unlimited leave policy, Flexible working hours looks tempting but are not enough to define an organisation’s work culture. Work culture is not materialistic. Don’t aim to work for a company that has a perfect culture but rather aim to work for a company that know the problems with their work culture and are open to hire people with the right mindset who can help them build a great culture.
If you have some thoughts on the work culture and want to discuss then you can write it to me or you can DM me on Twitter. I would love to hear them!
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