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Career Advice

How to Be A Positive Influence on Company Culture

Posted by Sarah Greesonbach

Last Updated December 2, 2016

Company culture has been making its rounds as a trending buzzword for HR departments for a long time now. But what does it have to do with you as an employee?

While many organizations use the term as a code word for team-building activities, company culture is actually a critical part of your workplace. It’s an intentional set of expectations that guide how your coworkers interact with each other and how you get work done. And as a member of that company culture, you’ll either intentionally or unintentionally play a role in how that culture develops.

[Related: 3 Ways You Can Embed Mentorship Into Your Company Culture]

Why should you care about your role in your company culture? Because it can have a serious impact on your career. In the short-term, a strong, healthy company culture will give you a more fulfilling workplace and increase your motivation to perform well at your job. In the long-term, participating in your company culture will allow you to display soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and trustworthiness that can pave the way for your career goals.

For most of us, it’s hard enough to keep up with our job description, let alone the projects that pop up and become a priority overnight. But if you find yourself focusing 100% on doing your job, you run the risk of “missing the forest for the trees.” You’ll spend your time on small-picture priorities and miss out on all the benefits that come from being a positive influence within your company culture.

Ready to have an impact on your company culture? Here’s what you should do:

1. Show support for HR

If you want to do the minimum, read the emails your HR team sends out and do as they ask. That means attending team-building events, following new communication protocols, and whatever else they mark as a company culture initiative.

If you want to go above and beyond, behave as if it was your plan in the first place. Champion these new ideas among your colleagues, defend them when someone inevitably disagrees, and communicate the value you see in the initiatives whenever the topic comes up.

[Related: 9 Unbelievable Ways Companies Have Boosted Morale]

2. Try to understand what’s behind the change

When an organization first tries to change its company culture, the strategy can feel at odds with the existing culture. This can be uncomfortable and disconcerting for employees who feel pressed between “the way we’ve always done things” and the change request.

Break out your leadership skills and make an effort to understand what’s behind the culture change. Not only will this help you make the change yourself, but it will make it easier for you to express support among your coworkers. For example, consider how this change will support a specific company trait, such as collaboration or communication, and focus on how achieving that trait will benefit your peers.

[Related: The 10 Biggest Leadership Mistakes To Avoid]

3. Buy into your company mission

It’s not unusual to take a job just for the paycheck. After all, not everyone is meant to live their dream in the 9-5, and many people do great work without being passionate about what they do. And when 89% of job seekers are either actively looking or open to better opportunities, the odds are high that most of your coworkers are fulfilling their job duties just fine with one foot out the door.

However, as you advance in your career and become more vested in your company, you should also mature in your commitment to the work you do. Getting on board with your company’s mission may not change anything about your qualifications, but it will make it easier for you to support changes that support that mission, and it will make you stand out to the leaders within your organization as a particularly committed professional.

Don’t assume culture is an HR-only initiative. As a member of your company, it’s in your best interest to contribute to a positive company culture. Use these ideas to show your support and reap the rewards.