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To Change or Not To Change: A key to survive in Corporate Culture

“It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”

    ~W. Edwards Deming~

I once heard of that quote while having surfed the internet.  It talks about the change, of course.  But why does I put it here – an article about corporate culture?  Yes, there is a reason.

“Culture is not a thing which is facile to change, girl.  By contrast, you have to vary yourself to survival.”

Ms Tran Thuy Xuan Thao, a PR coordinator at Scarlet Communications, told me so in a heavily rainy day, at the first time we met each other.  Before the appointment, I was so confused if I had chosen the wrong interviewee.  I had called her to explore profoundly the topic of corporate culture, particularly, of

Ms. Thao, PR Coordinator of Scarlet Communications, taken by me

how new employees can successfully assimilate withorganization artifacts, values and assumptions.  I was impressed by the story of a young student, whose major in university is not PR or communication at all, but still get current great job as well as her boss’s confidence in a famous competitive communication agency like Scarlet.  I felt curious and eager to know her secret.  But then, the question was raised: assimilating employees to be integrated with the organization’s culture is the leaders’ job or employees’ themselves?  Most of documents I had found state the key role of leader in that stuff.   That means I needed to look for another one who has had longer experienced years and stayed at higher status in a organization, instead of Thao – an only-seven-month-experienced worker .  However, as long as conducting the interview with her, I knew I had missed the point and felt regretted on that thinking.

Corporate Culture and New Employees – A literature review

Culture is hard to define.  So is organizational culture.  Organizational culture is not a tangible thing, like an ice berg, it is less to be visual seen (Hall, 1976) but imagined by the set of artifacts, value, and assumption that are designed, managed and exposed by organizational members and through their interaction (Keyton 2011).  To new employees, there is a need of socializing and assimilating process to organization’s culture for them.  If employees are acculturated with the organization, the ability for them to leave the organization will be decreased (Keyton 2011).

However, in reality, most newcomers are unfamiliar and have superficial knowledge towards the organization (Jablin 2001).  It is also the problem Thao met during the initial days of internship time.  More disadvantageously, Thao came to Scarlet via a recommendation with no sense of what PR as well as communication is in mind.   “Hence, besides having to learn and work hardly.  You do need skills to deal with the difference and tension in your workplace”, Thao emphasized.

Figure 1: Organizational Culture as an Ice-berg, reproduced from 1000advices

Learn, Accept and Follow

Undoubtedly, one person alone cannot convert what a plenty of people have constructed for a along time .  “Since it is culture and value, you,  as a newcomer, can probably not vary it just because it does not fit your expectation.” Thao agreed with me at that point.  “Instead”, she claimed, “you must drive yourself to get used to it, turn it into your working style as well.  She avowed that as a short time of working experience, she has been incapable of comprehending throughout all value or artifacts of Scarlet in which she has been working.  Therefore, she has been bound to hold some tips and skills that help her to overcome the obstacles.

  •  Catching up with your workplace’s working style: If you desire to work in a competitive and dynamic environment, you are not allowed to be passive or sluggish.  “During the first days at Scarlet, due to my timidity and silence, I faced with many  complaints from my boss.  Those characters are not only my nature, but effected by the educating foundation I experienced in past twenty years.”, remembered she, “But I have no choice without changing to keep pace with the intense apparatus.”
  • Speak the same language with your colleagues: It includes the communication style and jargons.  Thao advices me that if my colleagues have a habit to use English intermixing into Vietnamese, I may not have to follow. Nonetheless, it is better to try to imitate so as to make mutual conversations agreeable and penetrating. Likewise, she believes that it is necessary to study the jargons used in the workplace to avoid misunderstanding or missing the point with other people.
  • Keep pace with colleagues’ habits: “Have you ever heard the book Never Eat Alone ?”, Thao continued, “The key is you need to fall in line with your fellows’ common habits and should not do things alone”.  She give me an example of having lunch. “It must be really weird if at lunch time, you stay at your office and eat the portion you bring while everybody eating-out together.  Despite that you may scare of the bad quality of food or the meal with dear price in restaurant, eating alone is never a good option.  Instead, let be positive that you should spend money to get more money.”, she added, “Build more and strong relationships is never a wrong decision.”

“But remember, never lose yourself”, laughed Thao.


Figure 2:  Speak the same language with your colleagues,  reproduced from Cartoonsbyshelia

Helping you to be a part of the agency is not your boss’ job, but yours.

As the fact that the agency leaders have played a vital role in guiding their employees to endosmosis organizational value. However, it is not really true at all time.  As Thao sharing, in case of her, her boss wants to see how much she know and accept the company lifestyle rather than how much knowledge he will give to help her understand and feel assimilated to work at here.  “It does not effect to employee retention at all”, stressed Thao,  “that is because there are a plenty of competitors, who also want your great job out there. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, your company may not also need you any more, since they have tens of applicants waiting for.”

“You will never get full expectation from your company,  whereas, you need to do what your company expects.” Thao concluded before we ended the conversation.

Having a talk with Thao is truly a crucial experience to me.  It goes further the rigid theories that I have learned in class.  I realize that comprehending corporate culture is not enough, but needing to approve and come after.  It is all for the survival in fierce business environment.  By the end of the interview, Thao gave me a sound advice: “Business today is rife with competitiveness and accommodation.  Your workplace won’t drive upon your expectation.  You don’t change yourself to adapt it well? You will be eliminated. Keep this thing in mind, girl!”

Word count: 1,113

By Vu Thi Thuy Trang – s3324389

Reference n.d. ‘Organizational Culture as an Ice-berg’, image,, viewed 4 September 2012,

Cartoonsbyshelia n.d, ‘Speak the same language with your colleagues”, image, Cartoonsbyshelia, viewed 4 September 2012,

Hall, ET (1976). Beyond Culture, New York, Anchor Books.

Keyton, J (2011). Communication and organizational culture : a key to understanding work experiences, 2nd,Thousand Oaks : SAGE Publications.

Jablin, F (2001). “Organizational entry, assimilation and disengagement”. In F. Jablin and L. Putman (eds).  The New Handbook of Organizational Communication: Advances in Theory, Research and Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


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One thought on “To Change or Not To Change: A key to survive in Corporate Culture

  1. Hi Mel, Thanks for your suggestion, Regards, Trang

    On 8 September 2012 15:55, clientmanagementvn wrote:

    > ** > s3324389 posted: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not > mandatory. ~W. Edwards Deming~ I once heard of that quote while having > surfed the internet. It talks about the change, of course. But why does I > put it here an article about corporate cu” >

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