How many of your habits and ideas do you think you’ve picked up from the people you work with? Most people pride themselves on being individualistic and independent. We like to think we’re only influenced by the role models we choose, not the everyday Jims and Kates we share a cube with. People may not be lemmings, but we’re not impenetrable brick walls either. Our surroundings and co-workers affect us.
Rebel Dad blogger Brian Reid’s guest post on the Washington Post’s blog On Balance – Juggling Work and Family discusses how the workaholic habits of a former boss rubbed off on the entire organization. Reid used to work for former Bloomberg CEO and current New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and he describes how Bloomberg’s penchant for long hours and limited family time created a company culture that followed his lead.
Sure, Bloomberg was the CEO of the corporation, so it’s logical that his employees would seek to emulate his behavior. But a CEO alone can’t create a potent culture without a majority of employees buying in to it. In a recent post on Ben Yoskovitz’s blog, Instigator, he discussed how upper management can’t control culture, they can only instigate it and then allow it to incubate.
Peer pressure can be much stronger than “CEO pressure.” While supervisors control whether you get a raise or promotion, co-workers determine if you are accepted and respected by the group – something that many people value more than money.
When a person starts a new job, sometimes they mesh or clash with the culture at their workplace immediately. But more often, over time, they will develop behaviors and attitudes about work that mirror those of their co-workers.
For example, if you start working at a company where the employees rarely use their vacation time and never call in sick, after a while, you’ll probably either adopt these unspoken norms or leave the company. Similarly, if you work at a company where being aggressive and blunt is the way to get noticed, you might find yourself saying “please” and “thank you” less and opting for words like “immediately” and “no offense” instead.
A strong company culture isn’t a bad thing though. Without a united front, a company will struggle to accomplish its mission. But, since we’re all likely to be affected by our environment, it makes sense to work at a company and with people whose values you respect.
How do your co-workers’ values match with your own? How do you think your co-workers have influenced you? Do you feel the influence has been positive or negative?