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We shared your hard-hitting questions with our team of all-star HR professionals who bring years of industry knowledge to the table. This week’s submission was answered by Namely’s Learning Manager, Ryan MacPherson.
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Without further ado, here’s this week’s Ask HR submission:
“I have been at my current company for only two months and I’m noticing that there are huge structural problems with this company. There is no formal training program, no formal standard operating procedures, and the culture is “figure it out on your own.” My manager and our VP give off the impression that they don’t have time to answer my questions. I asked my VP a question yesterday, and she wrote me a lengthy email saying that she wanted me to figure things out by myself. I feel like there is just something innately wrong with the culture here. To whom should I go to for help here? Can HR help me?” — Sally, California
Ryan MacPherson: This is a tough one, as company cultures can vary quite widely. What may feel commonplace to them may appear to be entirely off-putting and disengaging to you. I’ve seen this a fair amount with employees who move from larger, structured organizations to companies in a high-growth, tech-driven space—it’s a culture clash that can be incredibly difficult to navigate.
Your best bet may be to work to provide some of the structure you feel the organization is lacking. Are there standard operating procedures lacking in your respective department that you’re accustomed to and that you can implement? Seeking to address specific challenges that fall within your area of expertise could help advance the organization and demonstrate you have the “figure it out” mentality that the company craves. Getting some of those wins under your belt, even if they’re small, can help you build stronger relationships in the organization and give you the clout to push leaders on more systemic changes that need to occur.
Depending on how HR operates at your organization, talking with your HR representative could be a helpful tactic. They may help you build a better understanding of how to advance some of the initiatives I mentioned above and navigate the “political” norms of the organization. However, if you are going to them with the hope that they can help shift the culture, you will likely leave your meeting feeling disappointed. Culture is built by everyone at an organization, and while HR can help to call out issues that fly in the face of the desired culture, it sounds like these are established working norms that are supported/endorsed by your senior leaders. Work with your HR representative to see if there are established behaviors/values that are expected at the organization, as that could help you work effectively in line with the culture, rather than against it.
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