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How to Find a Corporate Culture that Fits You

January 24, 2023

Culture. It's a word that's thrown around a lot in the corporate world, but what does it really mean? For some, it's the values and beliefs that shape a company's identity. For others, it's the way things are done and the atmosphere in the office. But for many of us, the true meaning of culture can be elusive, especially in the wake of the past year's mass resignations and job changes. As you look towards the future, it's important to remember that finding the right cultural fit in a job is crucial to your overall satisfaction and success. So, as you enter into a new year, make 2023 the year you take the time to truly understand and find the type of corporate culture you want to be a part of.

Risk or Reward?

Risk and reward: the two sides of the coin when it comes to creating a successful business culture. In today's fast-paced world, companies are constantly faced with the decision of whether to play it safe or take a leap of faith. But where do you draw the line? Working in a risk taking culture can be both exciting and challenging. On one hand, it encourages creativity and innovation, as employees are empowered to think outside the box and propose new ideas. On the other hand, it also requires a certain level of comfort with uncertainty and the ability to handle potential failures.It is important to understand the level of risk that is acceptable and the potential rewards that come with it. For example, in a social media startup, the culture may prioritize speed and iteration, allowing for a bit of flexibility when it comes to fixing broken features or algorithms. But in industries where the stakes are much higher, such as creating algorithms for critical medical decisions, a more cautious approach is vital to ensure the safety and well-being of those affected. A culture of risk-taking can lead to great innovation and growth, but it's important to also have checks and balances in place to mitigate potential negative consequences. As an employee, it is important to have a clear understanding of different companies’ risk tolerances and to find one that aligns well with your personal comfort level with risk. This way, you can contribute to the success of the company while staying within the bounds of risk taking that you will be happy with.

All Work…or Work & Play?

One of the most important aspects of a company's culture is the way in which employees interact with one another. While some companies foster a culture of work and play, where employees are encouraged to socialize and build personal relationships, other companies are more focused on pure business and maintain a strict separation between work and personal life.On one hand, companies that promote a culture of work and play often find that their employees are more engaged, motivated, and productive. When employees are friends, they are more likely to collaborate and support one another, which can lead to better results for the organization. Additionally, when employees are encouraged to socialize outside of work, they are more likely to develop a sense of camaraderie and loyalty to the company. On the other hand, companies that focus on all business may find that their employees are more focused and efficient. In these environments, employees are less likely to be distracted by personal relationships and are more likely to stay on task. You’ll do best at a company that fits your preferences, whether you desire to be friends with coworkers or not. Being friendly in an all-business culture can cause issues just like being standoffish and all business in a more social culture can.

Directness or Empathy?

Culture plays a vital role in shaping the atmosphere and dynamics of an organization, and the level of directness or empathy present in a workplace is a crucial aspect of that culture. For example, companies on Wall Street are known for having a culture of directness, where employees are encouraged to speak their minds and leaders call out mistakes without hesitation. This type of culture makes sense in finance, where quick and decisive action is needed to be successful. This can lead to a highly efficient workplace, where employees are held accountable for their actions and are more careful to avoid mistakes as a result. The criteria of success and failure will be very clear while being painstakingly and publicly measured.On the other end of the spectrum, a culture of empathy is characterized by an environment where tough conversations with employees are discreet and handled privately. Companies that foster a culture of empathy are likely to have employees who are more compassionate and understanding of the needs of others and prioritize this in all communications with their subordinates and teammates. This can lead to a positive and supportive workplace, where employees are more likely to collaborate and support one another. A downside here can be problems that don’t get addressed and a general avoidance of difficult conversations. It shouldn’t be hard to identify if your personality matches the place an organization resides within this spectrum.

Prompt Decision Making or Consensus Driven Culture?

Prompt decision making and consensus driven decision making are the two ends of the spectrum for decision making in the workplace. A prompt decision making culture is characterized by quick, decisive action and minimal consultation with others. This type of culture is often found in fast-paced, high-pressure industries, such as finance or technology, where quick and accurate decisions are necessary to achieve results. In a prompt decision making culture, employees are expected to take personal ownership of their decisions and be held accountable for their results.On the other hand, a consensus-driven culture is characterized by a more collaborative and deliberative approach to decision making. This type of culture is often found in industries such as healthcare or education, where there are many stakeholders and a wide range of perspectives to consider. In a consensus-driven culture, the focus is on building agreement and buy-in from all stakeholders before making a decision. This can lead to more inclusive and equitable decisions but can also make the decision-making process slower. Find an organization where you feel that your own decision-making style will be accepted and valued.

Final Verdict

Ultimately, it's important to understand that there is no right or wrong culture, it's all about finding the best fit for you. It's necessary to be honest with yourself and understand what type of work culture makes you most productive and happy. It's also very important to weigh the pros and cons of each culture and make a decision that aligns with your personal values, working style, and long-term professional goals. While it's crucial to find the right cultural fit in a job, remember that no company will be a perfect fit. You’ll need to find one that matches closely enough on the various spectrums to enable you to be happy and successful. As we enter into a new year, make 2023 the year you take the time to truly understand and find the corporate culture you want to be a part of.This post was developed with input from Bill Franks, internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, and author focused on data science & analytics.