Uncovering Company Culture Before You Take the Job

Do Your Career Values & Mission Truly Align?


Can you really know if the company culture fits before you take the job? I think so.

So far this month, I have written about the steps for developing your career values, vision, and mission. Establishing these areas is an often overlooked part of an effective career strategy. The natural next step, once you have written your career mission statement, is to determine whether you and target companies are in alignment. Let’s say you have conducted a series of interviews. Now you are moving on to the offer phase.

Congratulations on receiving a job offer! But are you sure the company culture is an excellent fit for you? Wouldn’t you like to know the real scoop on the culture of an organization before you accept the offer?

Every company has a culture, whether it is created intentionally or not. Did you ever regret ignoring the red flags that came up in the interview process once you were in a new job? Better yet, do you wish to recreate the great experience you had two or three jobs ago? You are not alone.

Before you take that step and accept, think about how soon you would like to conduct your next job search. Most clients tell me they want the next opportunity to be one worthy of committing to for the next few years or longer. Getting the culture fit right means you are likely to be more engaged and less likely to seek a new job soon.

“Actively disengaged employees are almost twice as likely as engaged employees to seek new jobs.”  Gallup State of the American Workplace

Finding the ideal company culture is not an exact science. In fact, it may not be high on your list of written priorities. Nevertheless, it has probably occurred to you that working in the right culture brings out the best in people. The good news is, you can take a proactive approach to discover a company’s authentic culture before you join. What are the benefits of such a strategy? With a well thought out strategy, you can:

  1. Align yourself to do your highest and best work, ensuring growth, contribution, and rewards
  2. Place yourself in the position of an informed choice when considering multiple offers
  3. Go in with your eyes open and with a sensible strategy when the environment is less than ideal
  4. Use the strategies outlined in this process to understand your company culture challenges today while crafting and implementing a positive exit strategy

A New Way to Answer the Question of Culture Fit

For ease of assessment, we can dissect company culture using the following four dimensions:

1. Strategy: How companies differentiate themselves in the market. Four common strategies fit most companies. For example, a company that is well established as “Best In Class” will position itself differently from a company that knows their product is a “Commodity.”

2. Structure: How companies handle reporting and decision-making. There are four types of reporting structures, which fit most companies. For instance, companies that have a “Command and Control” structure likely struggle with employee engagement.

3. Style: How companies communicate with customers, prospects, and employees. There are four unique styles of organizational communication. Do you crave an environment that is decisive and fast-paced? If so, a Consensus-Based company, with a slow, thoughtful pace is probably not for you.

4. System: How companies create and implement the culture (consciously or unconsciously). I have divided the dimension of “System” into four areas of distinct possibility. One style, companies that are highly disciplined and highly aware, place a high value on employee engagement and customer success. These companies are rare.

See if you recognize your most recent company in each of these four areas. Ask yourself which of the Strategies, Structures, Styles, and Systems would support your best work. The answers are not the same for everyone.

Is it time for you to find a better company culture, but you’re not sure how? Let’s talk. Call me to set up an initial brief conversation, with no obligation, at 303-331-3401