You’ve read (and probably heard) a lot about corporate culture. Why, as a job candidate, you should make sure to look for employers with the right culture.
You may be wondering, what kind of corporate culture is right for me? And just as importantly, what, exactly, is corporate culture?
Corporate culture is comprised of many components, as I learned this past Monday. George Blomgren, of TheGoodJobs.com, offered a comprehensive review of this topic during his presentation to the Professional Opportunities Networking Group of Greater Milwaukee (PONG).
Of the 10 elements that Blomgren reviewed during his presentation, four resonated with me rather strongly. They include:
Formal vs. Informal Environment: The rise of the dot-com businesses in the 1990s ushered in age of business casual (and just plain casual in some cases). Being a middle-ager with experience in sales–including a stint in insurance–I’m accustomed to a suit and tie. Indeed, I prefer to go that route for interviews. Blomgren says we should find out what the dress code is prior to interviewing. Overdressing can be just as detrimental as under-dressing.
As with other facets of the business, talking with present and former employees can provide useful insight. LinkedIn is a good place to make contacts and get a behind-the-scenes peek at a business.
Training and Development: Some businesses are extremely committed to this, Blomgren says, while others are not. When certain skills are in short supply, a company may be forced to develop from within.
I view training as an investment in the staff. It’s what I would offer if I owned or managed a business. As such, I’d like to see that in any business I consider for employment. Training and development encompasses more than a focus on core responsibilities. While a sales person for a newspaper, I attended several seminars. Subject matter included sales techniques, as well motivational/inspirational material. Management typically picked up most of the tab for the seminars.
Sales people were encouraged to purchase books and other materials; we reviewed the books during weekly meetings.
I have an extensive library of business-related books. (Old cassette tape kits have been donated.) Other training and information is available online today, much of it for free. Even so, a business that believes in developing its staff ranks highly in my mind. I want to stay sharp on all skills that can help me grow and contribute to the organization.
Communication Style: What tools does management use to communicate with staff? Are they the best methods, considering technology and processes available today? Even though a firm may be using the latest platforms, Blomgren says, those processes may not be accepted by all employees.
A communicator myself, I am quite interested in the communications channels used. Electronic methods are fine, though paper is acceptable as well. What concerns me are the volume and quality of information. Managers, especially, should have very strong communication skills. If they expect employees to take and follow direction, they must be able to articulate their thoughts well. In addition, any outside communication must be top notch. Those messages affect the firm’s image (brand); anything less than stellar is unacceptable.
How to determine this? The firm’s website is a good place to start. Review any social media pages (including LinkedIn), annual reports and other corporate materials, columns in trade magazines, and so forth.
Would I refuse to work at a place that doesn’t communicate well? Not necessarily. Indeed, that could present opportunities for me. But poor and ineffective communications can affect the performance of the business. It also makes one question the employer’s commitment to the organization. Does he or she really care?
Work Environment: This one really jumped out at me. Blomgren is referring to your work space and environment. One facet that bothered him at a previous job was fluorescent lighting. He much prefers natural light.
When I worked in an office, I took as a given the makeup of my surroundings. After all, what could I do about that? Probably little, if anything.
When I struck out on my own, in early 2005, I strove to construct a comfortable work environment. My ergonomically designed chair is adjusted just so. Lighting is set to the proper height. I make sure to take a break in the morning and afternoon. Those, in addition to lunch, get me away from the desk. That is important. The human body is not designed to be stuck at a desk for extended periods of time.
Blomgren adds that the work cubicle, which forces people to face walls, doesn’t fit human psychology. We prefer to be facing an open space. Businesses recognize that now. We’re seeing more open-design concepts, and ones that provide natural light. Employees appreciate the extra space–often offering ample natural lighting–that encourages more collaborative thinking (another of Blomgren’s 10 corporate culture elements).
Corporate culture is more than a buzz word. Its many components help define a business and the environment it provides for workers. Job seekers, along with vendors and other partners, should take the time understand the culture of the business they’re interested in joining. The closer the culture is to their own ideals and goals, the more likely that the candidate will feel at home.
On a side note, TheGoodJobs.com offers a free culture quiz for both job seekers and employers. You’re welcome to stop by and complete the exercise.
For additional reading, see “Effective leadership rooted in respect and assertive behavior” and “Small steps can lead to big success.”
How do you define or describe corporate culture? Which employers exhibited examples of good and bad culture? Feel free to leave a comment below. If you found value in this post, please share it so others may benefit from what you and I have written. You may use any of the following buttons. To contact me, send an email.