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Campus to Career Blog Series: Navigating Company Values and Norms

We are all born with certain values. Some were instilled from birth by your family, some were learned along the way growing up as you were influenced by peers, leaders and educators. At our core, these values guide us through life and are part of our personality, therefore finding a job that aligns with these values is very important to becoming a productive employee and directly correlates to your job satisfaction and overall work-life balance throughout your career.

“When you enter the workforce, it’s important to research a company’s culture and its values,” stated Peter Pappas, Human Resources Business Partner, DXC, New Orleans. “You want to go to work for a company whose values and norms are more in line with your personality.”

What are Values and Norms?

As a part of its culture, most companies have a set of core values, as well as norms that you’ll soon be expected to understand and live by throughout your tenure with the firm. Values are the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive a business, such as: accountability, honesty, fairness, or learning. These guidelines impact the employee experience you deliver as well as the relationship you develop with your customers, partners, and shareholders. Company norms are the ways that employees are expected to interact with each other such as treating people with respect, being open-minded and supporting each other. While values guide the big picture, it’s the norms that are often abused by small conflicts. While the norm of “treating others with respect” may be easily enacted by being polite in meetings and letting others speak, in most offices it also means not heating up your Greek take-out in the microwave at lunch or making sure to refill the coffee pot if you take the last cup.

Know Prospective Employers’ Values and Norms

Values are the foundation of a company and not likely to change and norms are usually good guidelines to follow that support a happy and healthy workplace. By looking at a prospective employer’s values and norms, you can find a company that fits your personality. Ceceille Palmer Malcolm, Scrum Master at DXC in New Orleans believes that doing the research and ensuring the company’s culture aligns with your personality means it will be easier to succeed in your job. She advises that more than likely, you will not change a company’s values, so expect to adapt if there is anything with which you disagree. However, making positive changes to some company policies can be something that shows your innovation and leadership. “Part of DXC’s values means we are client focused and committed to delivering exceptional value, while we also support straight talk. If employees have good ideas, our leaders listen.” One of the suggestions made recently was to create an employee game room. Management accepted the idea and not only built a game room, but encouraged employees to go in and take a few minutes to enjoy game time and blow off some steam. In addition, an employee-driven wellness program was created and team members meet to go exercise. “Sometimes we go walk around the Superdome,” said Palmer Malcolm.

Success Blooms in the Right Environment

Peter Pappas loves the collaborative and supportive atmosphere at DXC. The company values and norms align with his and he has thrived in the organization. “DXC is very people oriented and open,” he explained. “Nobody here has an office or assigned workspace, you just find an open space and work. If you were looking for a company with assigned offices and indoor cubes, or ultimately wanted to be promoted to the traditional ‘corner office,’ this might not be the company for you.”

He further explained, in regard to the work, that if you go to a big corporate company like Amazon or Microsoft, your project work may be in a pretty narrow silo. At DXC, you might work with DreamWorks one week and Facebook next. The company doesn’t sell a product, it sells solutions and has completed projects and work across the spectrum from entertainment, to healthcare, to transportation. “Part of our culture is that we offer diverse opportunities for our employees, but that means you will be called upon to be agile and adapt quickly to different situations,” said Pappas. “If your personality is geared more to focus on a specific product or certain tasks, you may be a better fit for a different firm.”

“Before going to work for a company, you will come in with your own norms and values and assumptions of what your career will look like,” cautions Robin Diana, Training Specialist, Talent Management, LED FastStart. “You need to make sure you understand the company’s core values and that they align with your own core values, and that you can subscribe to them and/or be willing to learn the “why” behind it and adapt accordingly. Remember, as an employee, you will be committed to the company’s vision, norms and values. If you can’t commit to ‘walking the walk,’ representing the best of the company, you’re probably in the wrong job or with the wrong company.”

This blog is the final piece of a five-part “Campus to Career Blog Series II.” Read them all on this site to learn more about how to combine the proficiencies you mastered in college with the essential business skills needed to navigate the workplace and so you can learn how to land a high-quality tech job and advance quickly.

And after graduation, don’t forget to use Louisiana Job Connection to find your new career!