Articles > Finding a job with the right Corporate Culture - by Scott Brown
When people look for jobs, they are mostly focused on a fairly narrow set of criteria such as salary, job title, and commuting time. An important factor that most people don't give much thought to until after accepting a new position is the corporate culture. While just about everyone who isn't happy with the culture of the company they work for complains about it after they're hired, very few people examine corporate culture before accepting a job.
CAUSES OF CORPORATE CULTURE
The main driver of a company's culture is its senior management team. These people set the stated business objectives. They also set unstated guidelines by the way in which they manage people. For example, Jack Welch set a culture of people focused on competition and selling more than competitors when he set a business objective that all GE companies had to be #1 in their markets. Sam Walton set a corporate culture of attention to detail by visiting individual Wal-Mart stores personally and inquiring about minute issues.
COMPONENTS OF CORPORATE CULTURE
Sense of Urgency - While just about all business managers will tell you their objectives are important, there is often a discrepency between what they say and the decisions they make. By asking employees to work however many hours it takes to finish projects and demanding that deadlines be met, managers create a corporate culture where performance is highly valued. Many managers, on the other hand, put a premium on employee comfort and low stress levels, and therefore do not demand that employees work harder or more hours to accomplish objectives. If you're a performance-minded person, there's a good chance you'll be unhappy in a comfort-minded company. People who are goal-oriented and who are looking to accomplish a lot in their careers, can feel stifled by a corporate culture that does not want to "overwork" its employees.
Business Size - Business size has a major impact on job satisfaction. Working at a large company, you may feel distant from decision making and having an impact. However, large companies generally provide more opportunities for career advancement. Large companies can also provide more social interaction, opportunities for after-work activities, etc.
Business Philosophy/Identity - Most companies tend to have a unique identity and philosophy. For some companies, they pride themselves on giving back to the community. Some are focused on making as much money for their employees as possible. And others are focused on providing a great work environment and being a place people want to work. Finding a business with a philosophy that matches your values will make getting up for work in the morning much more enjoyable!
Management Style - Some managers give their employees wide lattitude to make decisions. Others want to be involved in details and have more control over everything that's going on.
Degree of Trust - In some companies, people openly trust each other and share information with their co-workers. At other companies, people are secretive and even distrustful.
Understanding of Personal Issues - It's possible for a company to be focused on performance, but to still be generous with its employees in times of personal need (such as when someone has a sick family member).
WAYS TO DETERMINE CORPORATE CULTURE
It's often possible to get a sense of a company's culture by looking at their web site. They may include speeches from their senior managers or news items discussing company initiatives that indicate cultural values. Before interviewing, it's a good idea to think about the values you'd want a company you work for to have, and if it's not obvious to you the company has them, ask the person you're interviewing with what the company's philosophy is on the issue. Ask for examples to be sure the interviewer isn't just selling you on the company and can provide facts to back up their assertions. By asking culture questions and showing that you are interested in making sure you and the company fit well together, you're also communicating to the interviewer that you're a professional and that you are looking for a job that really makes sense for you.
Scott Brown is the author of the Job Search Handbook (http://www.JobSearchHandbook.com). As editor of the HireSites.com weekly newsletter on job searching, Scott has written many articles on the subject. He wrote the Job Search Handbook to provide job seekers with a complete yet easy to use guide to finding a job effectively.
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