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What Is Company Culture - How To Fit

Company culture - where do you fit?

There has been a lot of talk about culture lately. Specifically, what is it and why it is important. Pivotal Advisors describes culture as the character and personality of your organization. It's what makes your business unique and is the sum of its values and traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes. It's usually made up of several things like the company’s core values or what we call guiding principles. Ultimately, it comes down to the behaviors that get rewarded or corrected consistently over time.

How to Define Company Culture

According to a survey done by Deloitte, the multinational professional service network, "94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success." If you can't define your culture and you don't know what your core values are, or what those guiding principles might be, try answering these questions:

  • If your best friend joined the company and you wanted them to succeed, what would you tell them to do and not do to fit in? What do you need to do to get promoted? Ex. Having the best ideas, working long hours, bringing in the most business.
  • On the flip-side, what will get you fired? Ex. You are not following the rules, company politics, standing up to the boss when you shouldn’t.
  • How do your associates treat one another behind closed doors? Ex. Silos, teams, look out for one another.
  • What gets overlooked, and what becomes very visible? Ex. Revenue, customer wins, patents, new ideas, and leadership.

After answering those questions, your company’s culture should become a little more apparent and obvious.

Cultural Fit is Important

Now, whether you fit into your company's culture is a whole different story than actually trying to define what your company's culture is. The do's and don'ts of an organization are the real things when it comes to fitting in. You can flourish in a place, or get in a spot where either you or the company decides you don't fit. You can feel when the fit isn't right.

This "wrong fit" can be apparent as early as two weeks into a new job according to Forbes. At that time, you decide it's time to leave, or your company decides it's time for you to go. Everyone experiences entering and exiting an organization. When you enter, you're excited, but when you leave, it's not usually an exhilarating time. Reasons you leave a company:

  • You don't love it, so you move onto something else
  • You get laid off because the company isn't doing well or is restructuring
  • The company decides you should leave
  • You retire – which can be exciting

Exit Gracefully

As we have seen, many things can contribute to you leaving an organization but, one of the most significant factors is the company culture.  According to Jobvite, "15% of job seekers turned down a job offer because of the company's culture." As you're brought into an organization, it’s common to feel a bit like an outsider. To speed past the awkwardness of that feeling, there are several things you can do.

Remember the company chose YOU for a reason. The company wants you to succeed and are thrilled not only with the work you do, but the connections you make. So, try reaching out to groups within the workplace. Does someone go to the same gym as you? Do they want to attend a fitness class together? Does someone need another player for poker night?

Talk to your boss. Your boss should be your biggest supporter. Explain that you put yourself out there, formed some lukewarm bonds however, as you understand the company culture better, you're still not feeling confident in your ability to adapt and work well in it. Ask for suggestions. Unlike wine, this problem doesn't get better with time.

Lead the Team Bonding

On the other hand, say you're the leader, and you brought someone new to the team. In the first few months, you notice they aren't adapting well to the company culture. Here are a few tactics to help acclimate the new person:

  • Clearly define your company's culture - it may seem awkward but spelling it out for them is a good exercise for yourself and the new hire.
  • Ask your team to rate themselves and you on the company culture - make sure everyone understands that there is room to grow, including yourself. Ask them what they are experiencing relating to cultural fit and see if there are best practices to leverage.
  • Pair them up - you've spent a lot of time with your team and probably know with whom the new person would pair well. Have them collaborate on a project and get them talking with others.
  • Invite them out - take your team out for a little bonding. It could be a happy hour, or a group lunch, or other events.

Key and Lock Fit

As a company, both parties should want to experience a cultural fit, which should come out in the hiring process. According to HAYS Recruiting Experts Worldwide, "47% of active job seekers cite company culture as their driving reason for looking for work." As the hiring manager, you'll want to listen for certain cultural keywords or phrases that align well with the company. You can also take the candidate out and see how they handle being in an informal situation, or see how they flow in the office with some shadowing. Lastly, you can also give them a selection assessment. There are several ways to make sure both the company and the new person are a fit.

A well-defined culture allows a company to exercise its identity. Once a company establishes its identity, it helps leaders and employees to be successful. When the company culture is a good fit for leadership and employees, they are likely to be happier, loyal and more productive resulting in increased company performance, which is a win-win for all.

About Gary Braun

Gary is a founder and co-owner of Pivotal Advisors. He has worked for 20+ years as a salesperson and sales leader. Gary has been a guest speaker for many groups such as Vistage, Allied Executives, CEO Roundtable, Sales Management Association, and more. If you want to find out more about Gary check out his profile here.
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