Since you're asking - advice on how to smartly adapt to corporate culture

By code-R | Friday, 20 Jul 2018 has partnered with code-R to bring you examples of challenges faced at work and practical advice to empower yourself and others.

Disinherited Heiress: I have a confession to make. I’m about to start a new job, but I only got it through family connections and I don’t really know what I’m doing. Before you judge me - I have worked before, but my previous working life was a whole other kettle of fish.

My dad and his brothers are tycoons and run our family business. Some of my cousins and I decided to join them, and I’ve worked for most of my career with my dad, uncles and cousins. There was always tension within the family over which side should have more control over the business and the family’s finances, but my dad and his brothers always seemed to keep things balanced.

Then, just last month dad decided to resign his position on the board of directors and live out his retirement on some beach in the Caribbean. He was too proud to admit to me that his brothers had forced him out, but my uncles also told me I was no longer needed and that I would subsequently lose access to the family accounts – so I know something was up.

There wasn’t anything I could do, and I had to find some way to earn a living. Luckily, the family name and my work experience opened doors to a managerial position at an SME. They seemed to think that a tycoon’s daughter like me could help build their business. But I’ve never worked in a place where the decision-makers weren’t all related to each other, and I’m worried they’re going to see me as a fraud and get rid of me. Help!


code-R: High five! No, seriously. I rather applaud your tenacity. I must admit, my first instinct upon skimming the opening to your letter was to roll my eyes at having to read the oh-so-difficult struggles of yet another spoilt rich brat. Happily, you’re not that at all, as your willingness to work, even in unfamiliar territory, shows.

Your first step is to make the unfamiliar familiar. Get to know your new corporate culture. Just as your family’s company is the combination of its members’ beliefs, behaviours and practices, so too is your new company. You don’t have the advantage of knowing your colleagues as relatives (isn’t that a relief?), but you can get to know them if you pay attention.

Corporate culture elements include a company’s vision, values, practices, people, narrative and sense of place. Some aspects might be more overtly defined, but most will be implied, so you’ll have to work things out through being mindful and developing your own awareness.

Mindfulness is regulating attention in a disciplined way. Focus your mental energy, and operate in the present. Consciously identify clues for each corporate culture element in turn, and pay attention to every single detail in every single interaction. How do people dress, speak, and act? What do their words reveal about their attitudes? How do they tend to interact with each other, and what can their workflow systems tell you about implied mutual values?

As your awareness grows, you’ll learn how to align yourself with intention to their culture. You’ll better understand their expectations and motivations so you can mindfully reflect the same, and make decisions they’ll see as effective. This will give you a solid foundation to thriving functionally within your new company so you can learn to keep evolving professionally, and inherit your own potential.

Escaping nepotism and being forced to adapt might turn out to be the best thing that could happen to your career.




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Corporate Culture empowerment

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