The role itself isn’t the only thing that’s important at work. The culture of a business impacts everyone who works there. The responsibility doesn’t only lie with the business owners or management - perhaps they don’t always notice problem areas, or are too busy to work out the solution. This is where you come in!
As an employee, you should never be shy to make requests which you think will benefit the entire company, as long as you do it in a respectful, non-confrontational way. By putting forward suggestions, and better yet, putting yourself forward as someone who will help champion the changes, you’ll stand out among your peers and gain extra responsibilities along the way.
Here are 3 common “culture” issues we see in businesses, and some suggestions of how you can start to create change.
If the company you work for lacks team unity
You work in a company where everyone is too busy to spend any social time together, or where people are siloed into teams and don’t ever speak to other colleagues, let alone know their names.
Get social! This is one of the easiest areas you can take on responsibility for change and there’s a number of approaches you could take. Getting to know your colleagues better, rewarding everyone for a project well done, celebrating a national holiday - any of these could be a suggestion you take to your boss when you ask for permission to arrange a social event.
Some examples of company social events we’ve heard recently include a simple potluck lunch (everyone’s got to eat anyway, so even the busiest of team should be able to manage that!), right the way through to appointing a designated “Culture Champion” who is in charge of running at least one social event per month. Another great one we heard of recently was a “date-your-colleague” scheme.
How to ask:
“I’ve been here a while and would really like to get to know our new colleagues better, but everyone is so busy. I was wondering if there were any social events coming up, or I could take on responsibility for arranging some on a more regular basis? The budget doesn’t have to be huge, but I think it would be great for team morale”
If the company you work for lacks focus
You work in a company where everyone is busy doing their thing, and no one really knows what successes or struggles other teams or parts of the business are facing, or where the company is heading as a whole.
Monthly company meetings are a great way to keep up to date, or at the very least a year-end company celebration/round up.
How to ask:
“I was chatting with someone from [team name] this week, and it was really interesting to hear what they are working on. I was wondering if we could start doing regular “all-hands” meetings, so we could hear what’s going on in the wider business, and share ideas, milestones and goals. I’m mindful we don’t just want to create meetings for the sake of meetings, so we’d want to keep them short and meaningful. I’d be happy to help wherever I can”
If the company you work for lacks structure
You work at a company with no formal review structure or progression plans. Employees may never get any concrete feedback from their superiors from day 1 until the day they resign.
A more structured appraisal/review system. This one is probably the hardest of the 3 to ask for, as often your colleagues may think of a formal appraisal with dread, and it does take some time to set up for everyone, so you definitely need management buy-in. Funnily enough when we surveyed a client’s employees recently, all of them did want to receive more feedback on their work, but the trick is to make it useful and engaging, rather than a chore for everyone involved.
How to ask:
“I’ve been here some time now, and I’d really like to get some feedback on my work so far. I’m not sure if we have a formal review/appraisal process here? If not, I’ve got a few ideas from my old company that we could use, if that would help? Having a review every 6 months was a great way to keep us all on track with our own progress, and the bigger company goals.”
Of course, as with all work situations, you should always tailor your approach to the type of manager and company you work for, and there’s still a chance you might be turned down, but if you don’t ask you’ll never know!