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Team Building Skills

The Workplace

Workplace Culture

Each place you work will have a different workplace culture. Understanding your specific workplace culture will help you fit in and reduce your stress level. A workplace culture is the set of formal and informal rules that govern the interactions between the people who work there. Formal rules are written company policies and procedures. Informal rules are the unwritten ones that you learn as you work there. Some companies are very rigid with strict dress codes and formal lines of communication whereas other companies are more relaxed allowing employees to wear jeans and address each other by their first names.

As a new employee, it will take you a while to understand the workplace culture, but you can begin analyzing it whenever you come to the company. For example, pay attention to how you are greeted when you drop off your application or come for your interview. As you walk to your interview location, observe the workers and their workspaces. Once you are hired, you may be given a handbook, which may explain some of the workplace culture, for example the formal rules such as dress code and chain of command.

In a new work environment, you should always try to "fit in" with your coworkers. Here are some things to consider:

Once you understand your workplace culture, it will make it easier for you to judge how comfortable you are fitting in with your coworkers. If you like to keep your work and family separate, and you do not want your coworkers knowing your personal activities, a strong "family oriented" workplace will undoubtedly make you feel uncomfortable. That will lead to stress. On the other hand, if you are someone who likes to get to know your coworkers and wants to be friends with them, you would be very frustrated in a very formal, rigid work environment.

Think about your personality and preferences. What would the different environmental variables above mean to you? If there are specific things you could not tolerate, then that environment would not be good for you. The best workplace for you is the one where you feel the most comfortable.


Always remember that each team member is an individual person. In addition to each member having individual likes and dislikes, each person has individual values. These values are what are important in his or her life. Values represent a person's priorities. People cannot very easily leave their values at the doorstep; they are an important part of who each person is. It is important for the team to not discredit or devalue another member's values, or the team will lose that person's commitment to the group.

A good team should also have values. Those values come from the leaders of the team and the administration of the company. Many corporations have value statements, vision statements, and mission statements.

If the members of the team are unaware of their individual values and how those values impact their work, they might attend a workshop or have a team building exercise incorporated into a team meeting. Listed below are some values, and while this list is not exhaustive it is a good starting point when thinking about individual and team values.


Next section:  Developing Teams

Team Building Skills
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Velda Arnaud, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Lead, Educate, Serve Society

Last updated 10/4/14 (va)
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