You’ve passed the interview with flying colours and have been offered the job. The salary and the perks are exactly what you had hoped for. But four weeks after joining your new company, it doesn’t feel right. In fact you feel quite miserable and depressed about the new job. So what went wrong?It could be that you simply do not fit into the company culture.
So this week we present the questions you should be asking about company culture that could make all the difference to your long-term career chances.
What is company culture?
Company culture is that intangible set of values, beliefs, practices, styles and attitudes that are shared by and shape the interactions of a company’s employees. It is the “personality” or “character” of a company as defined by the collective styles of the people working there.
Cultures may change over time as employees leave a company and others take their places bringing with them a different set of values, attitudes and agendas. However, some companies have a stronger and more-ingrained culture that takes longer to change.
Why is it important to define?
A company’s culture? Working at a company where the vision, mission, ethics and values are incongruent with yours can be highly stressful, unrewarding and counterproductive.
Employees who clash with the company culture may feel their acceptance by the group wane and will generally experience a feeling of hopelessness and despair with their surroundings that will probably affect their attitude, productivity and longevity.
Employees who really feel alienated by the culture may even start experiencing symptoms of depression.
Individuals are far from likely to advance and excel in a company if they are dissatisfied with the working conditions and environment.
Professional career consultants make great efforts to understand a company’s culture and ensure that candidates they place are a perfect cultural fit, and that the placement will last.
How can you assess before signing a company’s culture before on the dotted line?
The answer is to be a keen observer and ask all the right questions at the interview stage, perhaps immediately after receiving the offer letter, but before you sign your life away. If you have friends or acquaintances in the company, even better – ask them to explain what it is really like, on a day by day basis, to work for the company.
Better still, ask to visit the company for a day to spend time with the staff or to attend a meeting where you can observe the people in their own surroundings and analyse, albeit to a limited extent, their interactions. If that is out of the question, ask for a tour the office. It is important to meet every person you will be working with so if you haven’t yet by the time you receive the offer letter, ask before you sign it. When you do visit the company, trust your instincts, and don’t turn a blind eye to screaming cultural cues.
Blogs, company message boards, college alumni boards and other networking sites are also a good way to make enquiries about a company’s culture and to assess the “intangible” benefits or drawbacks of working there.
Suppliers, competitors and clients can also often shed valuable insight into the company’s culture.
What following key questions?
There are some key questions that can shed light on the company’s culture and should help you make the decision as to whether your values and life choices are consistent with the company’s. The more the interviewer or employee can articulate answers to the following questions, the less likely you are to be taken by surprise the first week of the job.
What is the company’s vision, mission and value statement?
What are the company’s main priorities for the near and intermediate term and what does it mean for your role and division?
How would you describe the work environment? Is it formal or relaxed? Is the dress code casual? Is there a com pany caféteria or other casual meeting place?
What does it take for some one to advance and succeed in this company? How are expectations communicated? What behaviour, skills and character traits are rewarded?
What are the opportunities for growth in the company? To what extent is the company a meritocracy?
What performance apprais al systems are in place? How often are they administered? Do they apply to everyone?
How does the company reward its employees? Do employees have access to a profit-sharing plan? Are bonuses a significant part of total pay?
What is your company’s view on work/life balance? Are flexi time arrangements possible? Does the company have daycare facilities? Is there a company gym? What are the hours expected on the job and what are the hours actually maintained by most employees?
How are decisions in the firm made and communicated? What latitude is there for individual decision-making?
What is the company’s com mitment to the training and development of its employees? What form does this training take? How frequent is it? How does the company invest in its people?
At the end, if you are looking to advance and excel, you are better off in a place that upholds the same set of values you do or at least where there is no significant clash.