Definition of corporate or organizational culture: A collective way of thinking, behaving, goals, standards, attitudes, ideals and appearance

Working as a contractor, consultant or temporary resource for multiple clients can be a challenging integration experience, but the most successful workers are able to emulate the workplace culture in which they are immersed.  Contractors who thrive in this environment are able to ‘mirror’ their client’s standards and ways of thinking.  Here are some tips on doing this effectively:

Watch, listen and learn – Observing collective behavior is critical in order to ‘blend’ and succeed. Look for what you consider the most tasteful in terms of self-presentation to emulate.  Watch for best practices in how they handle data, paperwork, work conflicts, work spaces and social integration.  Observe how people talk – share information and interact.

Find a mentor – it is important to have a person on the inside that you trust and with whom you can build a rapport. A manager is a good place to start in order to ask what is expected of you, and to ask what standards are considered normal.  Striking up conversations with employees is also a great way to gage what is going on and to how they conduct themselves professionally.   Always focus on listening to them – their experiences and knowledge and don’t dominate the conversation in talking about yourself.

Research – learn all you can about where you are working from: the company website, your boss, others who have consulted there in the past, and from internet articles and statistics. There are usually reviews all over the web where you can get a feel for how a firm operates, as well as its successes and needs.  Try to get on different email chains, review the employee handbook and familiarize yourself as to procedures.  Learn about the driving forces behind the company, whether they are philanthropy, innovation or other values, and contribute the best you are able.

Personalize – write down people’s names and positions – try and memorize them – study the organizational chart for the company to find out who is in charge of each area and try to introduce yourself.  Join different social activities and group events whenever possible.

Always present yourself as friendly, open and teachable – smile, make eye contact and avoid sensitive topics in conversation. Have a positive attitude, show that you are willing to learn – come across to the client as a teachable, contributing resource who is willing to add value but be respectful at the same time.  Be fully present, team aware, and dive in – immerse yourself in your work, create trust and build bridges with those around you.

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