Monday, 11 January 2021

Interviewing for a new role? Is the culture a fit for you?

Getting culture fit right is critical.  It can make the difference between success and failure, being a high, average or low performer and being personally engaged or not.  It can have a long lasting impact on career trajectory.

We get our principle understanding of the culture of potential employers from the people we meet during the interview process.  In many cases, we draw conclusions based on a broad feeling or sense of whether we will fit or not. We often lack a clear framework against which we can compare, contrast or evaluate relative corporate cultures.  

When I'm building an understanding of an organisations culture, for example, as as part of a client brief for an assignment, I focus on the core areas below:

·         Dominant characteristics

·         Organization Leadership

·         Management Of Employees

·         Organisation Glue

·         Strategic Emphasis

·         Criteria of success


Dominant characteristics

Is it a very personal place? It is like an extended family?  Do people seem to share a lot of themselves?  Is it a very dynamic entrepreneurial place? Are people willing to take risks?  Is it very results oriented? Is there a major concern with getting the job done? Are people very competitive and achievement oriented?  Is it a very controlled and structured place where formal procedures generally govern what people do?

Organizational leadership

Does the leadership exemplify mentoring, facilitating, or nurturing?  Are they generally considered to exemplify entrepreneurship, innovating, or risk taking?  Do they exemplify no-nonsense, aggressive, results-oriented focus?  Is the leadership generally considered to exemplify coordinating, organizing, or smooth-running efficiency?

Management of employees

Is the management style characterized by teamwork, consensus and participation?  Is the management style characterized by individual risk-taking, innovation, freedom, and uniqueness?  Is the management style characterized by hard driving competitiveness, high demands, and achievement?  Is the management style in the organization characterized by security of employment, conformity, predictability, and stability in relationships?

Organization glue

Is the glue that holds the organization together loyalty and mutual trust?  Does commitment to this organization run high?  Is the glue that holds the organization together commitment to innovation and development? Is there an emphasis on being on the cutting edge?  Is the glue that holds the organization together the emphasis on achievement and goal accomplishment? Are aggressiveness and winning common themes?  Is the glue that holds the organization together  formal rules and policies. Is maintaining a smooth-running organization very important?

Strategic Emphasis

Does the organization emphasize human development? Do high trust, openness, and participation persist?  Does it emphasize acquiring new resources and creating new challenges? Are trying new things and prospecting for opportunities valued?  Does the organization emphasize competitive actions and achievement? Are hitting stretch targets and winning in the marketplace dominant?  Does the organization emphasize permanence and stability? Are efficiency, control and smooth operations important?

Criteria of success

Is success defined on the basis of the development of human resources, teamwork, employee commitment and concern for people?  Does the organization define success on the basis of having the most unique or newest products? Is it a product leader and innovator?  Is success defined on the basis of winning in the marketplace and outpacing the competition? Is competitive market leadership key?  Does the organization define success on the basis of efficiency?  Are dependable delivery, smooth scheduling and low-cost production critical?

As you gather your input using the framework above you will start to see common themes across the categories that combine to present a holistic view of what the experience of working in that organization may feel like day to day.

By comparing your preferred culture type to the culture of prospective employers you can determine the degree of fit and the gaps which may require you to flex your personal preferences.  You can also gauge whether those compromises will be manageable in the short, medium and long term and what if any will be the impact on your personal performance.