Every corporate environment and culture is different. People behave and perform along with their corporate cultures on a varying scale. Where 1 is a low performer and 10 is a high performer, I’ve worked with people at all levels of the scale.
I come from consulting where being a 9 or 10 in terms of performance is expected or else you’re out. I’ve also been exposed to companies that had so little structure and organization, that a 1-3 performance level was relatively normal. With this level 2 company, people simply didn’t respond to emails, didn’t arrange official meetings, didn’t have an organizational chart, and didn’t keep their word to support corporate strategic objectives.
What was my struggle? How do I go from being a 9-10 in terms of performance to tolerating the things I could not control in a 1-3 level organization? It was challenging. Everyday I had to remind myself not to compromise my level of performance. I chose to set the level that was normal for me as an example to others. There were so few opportunities to demonstrate performance, that even the smallest ones gave me great pride in my work. For example I was the fastest to turn in some required forms. I made the effort to arrange meetings when others would not. I submitted timely expense reports complete with formatting and all the bells and whistles in place to keep my Excel skills sharp.
These little jewels of performance opportunity, no matter how small, were the key to my sanity along with the constant reminder that I could maintain a standard of integrity, quality and turn around within myself. I chose to maintain my quality of work rather than lower my level. I was fortunate to have any work environment because just a few months earlier, thanks to the economic downturn, I had no job to challenge me at all. It's even more grueling for those seeking work to stay on top of their skills.
I still feared becoming complacent and expecting a nonchalant environment. Yes, I appreciated not being stressed and learning to operate flexibly rather than being in a strict, unforgiving structure. These items in themselves are valuable skills to learn as they allow you to adapt to any environment to you enter.
When it comes to response time, though, I encourage you to be thorough and fast without compromising quality. People appreciate responses and results that help them do their jobs better and faster. If you gain a reputation for delivering, you will become a "go-to" person. I think we all want to be indispensable to some degree. In a world that lacks job security, doing what ever you can to make yourself a key team player will set you apart in the long run, plus you’ll be able to proceed through each day knowing you’ve chosen to work with excellence and integrity. That confidence in yourself will also take you a long, long way. This was just one of the many valuable lessons I learned as I discovered what elements of a work environment I liked versus those I didn’t.