“You’re Hired!” Those may be some of the best words you hear when you come to Canada – especially if it’s a job you really want. But now comes the task of navigating your workplace culture.
Newcomers to Canada have an extra step to take in learning how to work in Canada and in their new workplace. Just as Canada is a new culture, your company has its own culture. It’s your job to understand it, so you can fit in and be successful. This is not just for immigrants – other Canadians also have to figure out the company culture when they change jobs.
Understanding the Workplace Culture
Baljit Chadha came to Canada at age 21, and is now president of an international trade and marketing firm. He offers the following advice in “You’re Hired. Now What? An Immigrant’s Guide to Success in the Canadian Workplace.”: "Each company has its own rules, processes and procedures. It’s your job to figure this out by observing and asking questions."
Since most workplaces conduct orientations with new employees, use this opportunity to check in about any queries you might have, including who is the direct supervisor, who you need to inform in case of emergencies, what is expected of you in terms of work goals, etc.
“Learn what your manager wants from you,” says Shelley Brown, President of Bromelin People Practices. Not only should you get a job description for your job, but you should also ask for a copy of your manager’s objectives. Obtaining a missions and values statement is also incredibly useful because it gives you an idea of the project and company expectations.
Lack of initiative is one of the common misconceptions that managers have of immigrants from some cultures where the workplace may be based more on hierarchy. In many Canadian companies, managers expect you to take initiative and find solutions to problems. It is important to openly communicate with your manager how much responsibility you should take, how often you should report back, and how he or she prefers to be contacted – by phone, email, or at his or her office.
People of certain backgrounds might be used to a more passive way of working, where taking initiative or suggesting change might be looked upon at negatively. However, in Canada, this is openly encouraged and rewarded so innovate away!
It’s also important to understand how your colleagues communicate in order to avoid misunderstanding. It is recommended to use words and phrases that make it easier to work together, such as “How can we resolve this issue?” or “What could we do better next time?” instead of, “This work is unacceptable.” Being a new employee, if you are seen as being too aggressive with your words, it might reflect badly on you and hinder effective communication with your team.
Always aim to communicate in a way that improves the situation rather than just highlighting the pitfalls. This method will help to not single out anyone or make them shoulder the blame, and in the long run, such problem-solving communication will strengthen the team morale and productivity.
Moving to a new country is a challenge, but you’ve accomplished it! Navigating the workplace culture can be tricky but it takes time, perception, and open communication. Humans are social beings, and so you will internalize all of these experiences and soon flourish in your new workplace.
Here are some more resources to help you win interviews and find jobs in Canada.
- Getting Started on your Canadian Job Search
- 5 Things To Do After Landing in Ontario
- How I Found My First Job in Canada as a New Immigrant
- How to Write a Resume that Gets You Job Interviews
- Finding a Job: a Newcomer’s point of view
Modified from: “7 Steps to Career Success” on monster.ca