What annoyed me was the advice advocating fitting in with your employer’s culture. Putting on the uniform, kissing heavyweight arse, being seen to do the “right stuff”, and those sorts of things. “You’re really lucky to have this job, now shut up and fit in”.
To a lot of people, conforming with organisational culture at the expense of other behaviours comes with an expectation and perhaps even a tacit instruction that that’s what you’ll be rewarded for. If new recruits observe arse kissing and bullying being rewarded, then that’s successful behaviour they’ll be keen to copy. That’s why I think recommendations to new employees about striving to fit in suck.
Brian in the movie “The Life of Brian” told the hoards of adoring fans outside his bedroom window “you are all individuals”. The crowd replied “Yes, we are all individuals!” Sadly some organisations say they respect individuality but expect, nay demand, staff’s adherence to their organisational “standards” and mores.
If fitting in is something that floats your boat, then being told to do this by the well-intentioned is probably going to work for you. However if you’re a person who is comfortable in your own skin and who enjoys being you, then I suggest that conforming to others’ expectations and standards by putting on a Work Face is not a place you should consider going. Unless you are able to be one person at work and another in your non-work life. Some people can do that. Others, myself included, struggle.
Don’t get me wrong, there are behavioural expectations that a good employer has that should be honoured by their staff. Honesty, integrity, fairness, openness, kindness and so on.
A great employer, and a great manager for that matter, I believe is one who acknowledges the power that comes from a team of people who, while committed to the organisation’s business purpose and values, are comfortable with their natural selves and who encourages their staff to be themselves (within reason, of course!). There is a big difference between building a team and building conformity.
Going to work should be fun and people should enjoy doing what they’re paid to do. Regrettably that’s a message that’s lost on some senior managers who just want things done their way and quickly. Sweatshops are inevitable for some types of business, but that shouldn’t be a reason why people who work there can’t have fun and enjoy being themselves. It may turn out that they may have so much fun that they don’t mind being paid a pittance to do a job that machines could do.
Nearly everybody who has ever worked in paid employment seems to have a story about injustice, inequality, bad bosses, and other tales of woe. Tales of great employers who are committed to staff as individuals and who reward innovation and risk-taking are much harder to find. And that saddens me, because I think those ratios should be the other way around.