Photo by Amy Hirschi

When you start a new job, how do you know the appropriate behavior? How do you know the best way to communicate? Adam Navis and Liz Waid share advice for learning work culture.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Adam Navis.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

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Voice 1 

Imagine this situation. You studied very hard in school. Now you have finished. You dreamed of getting a good job in the United States. Finally, your dream came true. It is your first day of work. Now, you are walking into your work place on the first day. You see your supervisor – the person who will be your boss and tell you what to do. Your supervisor reaches out a hand. Suddenly you are not sure what to do! Should you reach out your hand too? Should you say something or wait for your supervisor to speak first? What should you do?

Voice 2 

Today’s Spotlight is on work culture. Each work place has its own culture. This culture guides the way supervisors and employees talk to each other. The values of a company influence a workplace culture. The culture of the country where you work can also influence work culture. Some people may move to a new country to take a new job. They may not know what to expect in a new culture. It can be difficult to know the right behavior in new situations. It can even be difficult to know the best way to communicate. In today’s program we share a few things people can do to learn the culture at their work place.

Photo by Marten Bjork
Voice 1 

Immihelp.com is a website that gives advice for people moving to and working in the United States. They give general advice about many things people may experience there. One area where they offer advice is work culture. On their website, they say:

Voice 3 

“People in the U.S. have many different kinds of jobs. Work culture and office environment may be different across different industries and different parts of the country. Even different companies in the same industry and in the same area may have different work cultures.”

Voice 2 

Immihelp is a website particularly for people living in the US. But this idea is true no matter where in the world people work and live. Every work culture is different. So it is difficult to make or follow an exact list of rules that helps in every situation. However, there are some general methods people can follow to learn the culture of a work place. This advice can be helpful for any person starting a job. This advice may also be helpful to people who are experiencing problems at their current job.

Photo by Amy Hirschi
Voice 1 

Everyone who works should know the rules. When you begin working at any job, you can ask for the employee manual. Most work places make this list of rules. Read through the rules. They should tell you rules about taking holidays or vacation, policies about using the computer, and other helpful rules.

Voice 2 

An employee manual will also tell the dress code. The dress code tells what clothes are good to wear at that work place. Some work places require employees to wear a uniform. Others require employees to wear formal clothes, and others do not require any special clothes at all.

Voice 1  

A written rule guide is very helpful. But many work culture rules are not written. One good way to learn a work culture is to observe your co-workers, the people that you work with. For example, observe how people greet each other. Is it different when a boss greets an employee? What happens when co-workers greet each other? It can be helpful to watch these greetings and then use them yourself.

Voice 2  

You can also learn other social rules from observation. For example, different cultures have different rules about how close to stand to another person. The website skillsconnect is for immigrants finding jobs in Canada. They write this advice on their website.

Voice 4  

“Watch your co-workers’ body language and change yours to fit in. For example, Canadians are most comfortable with 18 inches between each other when meeting or talking. Standing closer is considered rude and invasive. Standing further away appears that you are not interested in the other person, or that you are too shy.”

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Voice 1  

Observing behavior in an office is one good thing to do. But it can also help to talk with your co-workers. This advice comes from Satheesh Kumar. He is from India. Kumar studied computers there. Then he got a job in the United States. He noticed the work cultures of the two countries were very different. Kumar began a blog to tell other people from India coming to work in the US what they could expect. On his blog he says that a simple thing can help you gain trust from your co-workers. That thing is eating the lunch meal with them! He says:

Voice 5  

“It is probably very common for people to eat lunch with co-workers. But some do not understand the importance of it in the working world. It is especially important when you are working in a different country like in the US and in a different work culture.”

Voice 2  

Kumar explains that while you are all eating a meal, you can talk about things other than work. You can talk about a person’s family or the things they are interested in. It is also a chance to ask about the culture you are in, and to share information about your own culture. Most of all, it is a chance to build a personal relationship.

Voice 1  

Finally, do not be afraid to ask questions. If you are not sure how to do something, or what is accepted, you can ask someone else. Immihelp writes on their website:

Voice 3  

“If you are not sure about something at your work, do not act like you know it. Admit it honestly and go ask the right person. Concentrate on key areas of knowledge. Develop your skills accordingly. Do not act like you know everything. Sooner or later, people will discover that you do not know. And that may negatively affect your performance.”

Voice 2  

There can be many things to learn and remember when you start a new job. In the beginning, it can be difficult. But if you keep a positive attitude and try, you will do well.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Liz Waid. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Work Culture’.

Voice 2 

Tell us what you think about today’s program. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook – just search for spotlight radio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you have a job? How did you know the right behavior for your job? Write your answer in the comments below.

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Episode 1