The Culture of A Business: Understanding Whether You Fit In!

January 18, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Every business has a unique culture and yet in times of high unemployment and slow economic growth culture seems to be a luxury that we cannot afford to pay attention to. Whether or not this is wise, the culture of a business exists and survives even as the business itself may falter.

Culture is slow to change and when nurtured properly can raise loyalty, motivation and facilitate the success of the business. But if done wrong, it can produce resentment, fear and even confusion among members (and prospective members) of an organization.

Given that so many of us are looking (either actively or passively) for a new job, as a prospective employee you should think about gauging a company’s culture. Granted it can be tough, but there are many subtle pointers that can help you gain insight into this very important component of a company’s identity.

The company’s web site can be a good starting point. What is the style of the site? Some are very formal and serious; some have a more “tongue-in-cheek” approach. Does the company make it easy for you to contact them? Do they provide detail and bios on their leadership and if so how much and what type of detail?

If you have the opportunity to visit the company in question, look at the routine and casual behavior. For example, how did the receptionist greet you? How do the employees act? What does their body language and mannerisms tell you about the environment? Are office doors open or closed? Do people have personal accoutrements in their offices or workspaces or is it all impersonal?

If you are interviewing with a company try to talk with former employees or even suppliers and customers about how it is/was working with this particular company. What they say can provide you with verification for all the things you have found out so far. Find out what is written about your potential employers in print and online but keep things in perspective and keep in mind the source of the information at all times.

During the interview, don’t be afraid to ask about how things get done. Ask how decisions are made and what latitude you will have to do your job. Assess the response regarding any culture related question you have.

In all of this, be mindful of your own style and comfort level in various environments. What are your opinions on work surroundings and business culture? Where do you thrive and what atmosphere are you most productive?

Again, this may all seem quite frivolous and subjective, particularly with unemployment at 9.6%. But it is precisely in these circumstances that we cannot afford to make poor job choices and inferior decisions.

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Entry filed under: Business, Recruiting.

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