Think you can spot the difference between a good corporate culture, and a bad one? And does it matter? Whether you are already at an established job, or are looking for a new job, the corporate culture has an effect on your daily life as well as your career.
An article by Shane Atchison, 10 Signs That a Company Has a Serious Culture Problem, highlights ten factors to help you spot a corporate culture that may spell trouble:
- Over-emphasis on workplace ‘toys’ or ‘play areas’ – if your company has a cheerful public space where employees voluntarily mingle, that’s a good sign. If there is an employee pool table with an inch of dust on it, that’s a bad sign.
- Your first impression of the workspace is less than stellar. First impressions are key, right? So a disorganized space, or a poorly lit space, or even a space that screams neglected, maybe be a sign that the company, and thus, employees just don’t care. That’s bad.
- The company leaders are hidden from view. When you meet with a manager, do you feel instead like you’re meeting with a school principal? Tucking managers away gives the impression of a disconnect between management and their employees, and may reflect a culture that is very hierarchical, or has communication issues.
- When talking about corporate culture, you get the sense that something is missing, and worse, ignored. Whether it is a current boss, or a potential boss, ask for descriptive words when asking corporate culture questions. See how well the ‘talk’ matches the ‘walk’.
- Do your homework – leaders are increasingly visible online, and a quick search should offer insight on the culture. If all you can find is a prepared marketing statement, then you have a few keywords to work with, such as ‘innovative’, or ‘trustworthy’. If you can’t find any information on the company’s leadership, that should tell you something as well. The culture may be secretive, or management hasn’t heard of the internet.
- Setting the bar too high can also indicate trouble ahead. You may not want to work for a company where the ‘ends’ justify the ‘means’. An over-achieving culture may be covering wide-spread unethical behavior.
- You hear crickets. In a roomful of people. A happy workplace will sound, happy.
- ‘Company values’ are posted on a wall, like the mantra you say every morning, hoping that someday you’ll finally believe the words you’re saying out loud.
- It’s 5:00 pm, and nobody notices. If the average worker doesn’t leave the building until hours past close of business, it can be hard to keep morale up. If a few employees may work late for specific reasons, that’s reasonable. If the parking lot is still full after hours, there is an underlying problem.
- And finally, what happens when employees get together, and how often? Company mandated celebrations only? Or is there a company softball team? If employees avoid each other off the clock, there may be an underlying resentment as a result of a communication or management problem.
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