Finding a corporate culture fit


In anyone’s career path – no matter what the profession – securing the right position at the right company is paramount. Finding the right position at the right company is about more than the job, the salary and the potential for promotion.

Does this sound familiar? You have a shining CV, searched on the right websites, signed up with an excellent recruitment agency, honed your interview skills and know exactly what earnings and benefits you want. Furthermore, you’ve researched the company and examined its brand. All set right?

Not quite. There is one more thing to consider and it might be the most overlooked, yet important, thing of all; company culture. In the Ivey Business Journal, Joanne Reid and Victoria Hubble define company culture as: “the learned assumptions on which people base their daily behaviour,” in other words, “the way we do things around here.” Culture drives an organisation, its actions and results. It guides how employees think, act and feel. It is the “operating system” of the company, the organisational DNA.’ Corporate culture plays a key role in defining one’s career path.

No matter how great a brand seems, if an organisation’s company culture does not match that brand and, most importantly, does not fit your value system, after a couple of months the cracks will begin to show and what started out as another step in a promising career becomes purely a job, something done just to get to the pay check at the end of each month. This is certainly not a good place to be in, neither for you nor for the company that employed you. Many people resign themselves to the ‘well that’s the way things are’ way of thinking. This is one of the many reasons why a number of people dislike their jobs and possibly why work environments as well as performance tend to be challenging. If every employee at an organisation, or at least most of them, were present because they wanted to be – work would be fulfilling and the company would excel. This might seem idealistic, but the first step to achieving this ideal is finding a place of employment with the right culture. The ACCA document, Channelling corporate behaviour – a review of the academic literature, says, “Individual behaviour is predominantly shaped by intrinsic motivations – a desire to master one‘s work, to take responsibility for it, and for it to be focused on a shared higher purpose.” This is at the crux of corporate culture, and finding a culture that would serve as motivated for a shared higher purpose and could possibly be the start of something valuable.

So how do you go about identifying a company’s culture? Firstly, when researching an organisation before an interview, pay close attention to the organisation’s vision, mission, values and purpose. Browse their website, read up about their policies on wellness, safety, diversity, transformation, CSI and talent management. Secondly, search for the organisation in the social media space. If the organisation does indeed have a social media presence, follow its conversations and jot down some notes.

As soon as the research has been concluded, individuals should make it a mission to bring up company culture in the interview. At some stage most interviewers may ask if the interviewee has any questions. At this particular stage, individuals should make a point of starting the conversation about culture. This allows an individual to personally reflect and evaluate core values and define what about the company resonates with the individual and what doesn’t. Enquiring about an organisation’s culture also provides individuals with an opportunity to reflect on their own purpose, values and ultimate vision for their careers. This will enable individuals to identify parallels between the organisation and themselves. Asking questions during an interview will more than likely impress a potential employer as well as open up the interview to a meaningful conversation. Corporate culture plays a big role in determining how well individuals within organisations will do. Finding a corporate culture fit should never be understated nor overlooked.

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