Does Corporate Culture Matter?

A hot topic of conversation lately at conferences, in articles and in our conversations with attorneys and our clients is corporate culture- what is it and why does it matter? The question in part may be driven by millennials influencing the discussion and or a shift toward a candidate driven market. Corporate culture has been discussed in defining both “what it is” and “what an organization may want it to be.”

Here are some practical suggestions on how to assess culture, how it may influence your performance, and how culture should factor into your career decision making criteria.

Have you ever spoken to someone who works for a mission-driven organization or an organization that excites an individual? In part, that enthusiasm may come from both performing the core legal competencies, the actual work, and whether the individual is aligned with the mission of the organization and its culture. The alignment between your values and the company’s values is a source of energy, enthusiasm, motivation and creativity.

Determining if an organization is a good fit is critical to the long-term success of your career. It can be the glue that keeps us engaged and carries us through rough spots. By recognizing and aligning your values, you can feed your inner soul.

How does one determine a good cultural fit? Corporate culture is based on company values which may come in part from the mission statement or core values statement of the organization. Learning what your work values are will help you understand what type of corporate culture fits best with your values.

Below is a list of work-related values. While not exhaustive, these are values that many professionals may find meaningful in planning and managing their careers.

  1. Working on meaningful assignments or projects
  2. Being rewarded financially for goals achieved
  3. Having a flexible schedule to meet family or other needs
  4. Being active in a community, society or profession
  5. Collaborating with others to achieve goals
  6. Being recognized as an expert in your field
  7. Advancing your career
  8. Being creative
  9. Loyalty is valued
  10. Being independent
  11. Influencing others
  12. Challenging yourself intellectually
  13. Helping society
  14. Being competitive

If you rank rather than just read these values, it will make a difference in values clarification. In clarifying your values before embarking on a career change or in undertaking a meaningful assessment of your current role, you will be more focused and more insightful.

How to Determine Cultural Fit

When pursuing a new career opportunity, many people find the following process  helpful. Following this process can help you verify that your values are aligned with a hiring organization’s values.

  1. Secure brochures, annual reports or marketing documents prepared by the organization and highlight any word or words that reflect values such as: “collaborating”, “teams”, “achieving”, “securing”, “family”, “recognition”.
  2. Use online resources such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Google, and articles published about the company.  Highlight words that reflect values.
  3. Look at the highlighted words. Do you see patterns, themes or trends in words being used? What is the information communicating to you about the culture?
  4. Speak with people you know at the organization or who are knowledgeable about the organization. How do they describe the culture of the organization? Are there connections between your values and the hiring organization’s? How many and which priority values connect?

We are told by people who follow this straightforward process that they gained valuable insights. Sometimes the power is in completing the step-by-step process. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the process. Culture matters and it is tied to values, motivation, career satisfaction and happiness.  You owe it to yourself to inform yourself about corporate culture at any organization that you intend to work at.

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