How Important is a Good Culture Fit at Work?

​When I first came out of college and started looking for my first job, it was pretty stressful.  I was trying to figure out if I could really get a job with the degree that I had, would it pay enough, and would I like it?   I needed experience and a friend helped me get in the door at a smaller company she was working at in downtown Chicago. My commute was really long and I learned a big lesson on the importance of working in a good culture. Let’s just say this wasn’t a good work environment. There was a lot of yelling by management and decisions were changed on a regular basis. People walked on egg shells never knowing what may set someone off which is not very productive and highly stressful. Although there were negatives, there were also some positives. I adapted and figured out how to work with people that had very different styles than mine, had some successes and I found out how much I loved doing computer stuff at that job. I knew that the environment I worked in was the exception in comparison to others and it wasn’t one I was going to choose again.

Once you have more experience and a proven track record of accomplishments, then you have more leverage in the decision of what you want in a company. Usually there are 4 major areas of focus to a new job decision: Job fit/advancement potential, culture fit, location, and compensation/benefits. It is important to know what you want before going into the interview. What if the job is a great fit but the culture isn’t so great? What if the pay is phenomenal, but the culture isn’t? What if the culture is great, but the pay is lower than you expected? Know what you are willing to concede on and what you won’t so you can make a good decision.

The people that I have coached during career changes say that culture fit is a primary driver in their decision to take the job or not. Have you assessed what things are important to you and what type of culture that you want? There are many factors to think about when you describe a work culture:

• What type of environment is it and how does it look ?
– cubicles, open seating, offices, colorful, very few colors, bright, creative, can work remotely or only in the office, stable or startup, super quiet or full of conversations

• How do things get done/how are decisions made?
– nimble, bureaucratic, slow, transparent, command and control, empowered, hierarchical, lots of processes or very few, outsourced or internal labor,

• What are their values and focus areas?
– employees, cost, innovation, quality, results, processes, customers, products, community focus, consumers (these may be hanging up in the office or on their website so you can find out more about them)

Obviously compensation and job fit play a really important role in job satisfaction, but these cultural areas affect whether employees are willing to stay for a longer period of time. Do they find that the pace and style of the company is a good fit? Do they enjoy being in the space that they work in? People want to work in a company that is a good fit for their strengths and personality.

How can you know what the culture is when you are interviewing? Here are some things to consider:

Pay attention to the space when you walk into it. How does it feel to you? Do the people who are already working there look happy to be there or stressed out? Can you see yourself being in it? Ask questions during the interview about some of the areas listed above and see what type of answers you get. When you get the responses, do you have a positive or negative reaction? Try to ask other people who already work there for their input. Check out the Glassdoor ratings and feedback to get a sense of the culture.

This article by Clarke Murphy discusses how culture plays a big role in the success of someone staying in a company. Will the person be a good fit in their culture and be able to adapt successfully? Starting to use assessments to gauge culture fit allows the employer to have another data point that can help them decide whether to extend an offer.

One of the Hogan assessments actually measures whether a person would be a good fit in a culture based on their personality. If you would like to take the Hogan and see what type of culture would be a good fit for you, send me a note!

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