As a recent graduate, I have noticed there seems to be two competing ideas of advice for new and young professionals, “You don’t have to take the first job offer you get, you can wait and see what else is out there,” or, “Take the job – you don’t have to stay there, you can always quit after a year.” Regardless of how or when you get there, one of the most important factors in deciding if a job is right for you, and making sure you stay, is finding a place that you are comfortable at – a place where you fit into their company culture.
Company culture is the shared values and practices of the company and its employees. Just as people do, each company has their own unique set of values and priorities. “A fit is where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organization and those of the person.”
However, making sure you are a good cultural fit isn’t just your personal concern; it’s increasingly your employers as well, and has become a large factor in the hiring process.
When practicing for mock job interviews during senior year, my capstone teacher would repeatedly tell us to be prepared for any type of question – questions not just about field related skills. Questions such as: What is the last book you read? If you could meet anybody from history who would it be? If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy? While these questions also act as assessment for how quickly you can think, and how eloquently you can speak, on your feet, your answers are also fielding how well you would mesh with the company and its other employees.
A professor from Northwestern University, Lauren Rivera, concluded that hiring decisions are made in a manner closely resembling how one would choose friends or romantic partners, and that off topic questions, such as the ones above, have become central to the hiring process. So central in fact, that companies are more often saying that cultural fit can trump job qualifications.
You don’t have to wait until the interview to know whether or not there will be cultural coherence. Becoming aware and familiar with your own personality traits can help you coincide your preferences with the best organizational fit. Typically, there are four types of organizational cultures that companies can be categorized into:
These organizations are defined by stability and control. They value standardization and well defined structure for authority and decision making. Think large, bureaucratic corporations – McDonalds, Ford Motor Company, government agencies. Other attributes are: policies and procedures, accuracy and precision in details, and measurement systems with regular reporting.
Similar to hierarchical, market companies value stability and control, however, they have an external orientation and value differentiation over integration. With outward focus, these companies are concerned with the relationships and transactions between themselves and their suppliers, customers, consultants, legislators, etc. Market organizations are concerned with competitiveness and productivity through emphasis on partnerships and positioning – think of General Electric. Market culture maintains that performance results speak louder than process.
Unlike the first two categories which value stability and control, clan emphasizes flexibility and discretion. Additionally, rather than having a hierarchical structure, clan organizations act more like families – hence the name – valuing cohesion, a human working environment, and group loyalty and trust. Rather than strict review policies, employee development is often maintained through coaching and feedback. One of our favorite animators, Pixar, is an example of a clan company.
Similar to clan, adhocracy values flexibility and discretion, while also being similar to market in favoring external focus. Success is envisioned in terms of innovation, creativity, and future thinking. Entrepreneurship often lies in finding new opportunities to develop new products, new services, and new relationships. These types of organizations thrive in an environment that offers flexibility and adaptation. Google is a prime example of adhocratic culture.
Congruence found in obtaining a job that matches your personality is not something to be undervalued. A good cultural fit is associated with many positive outcomes, for both the employee and employer. A meta-analysis conducted by Kristof Brown found that employees who fit well with their organization, coworkers, and supervisors:
- Had greater job satisfaction
- Identified more with their company
- Were more likely to remain with their organization
- Were more committed
- Showed superior job performance
To find out what your personal archetype is, there are a myriad of free surveys you can find online to provide insight on your personality traits and offer suggestions on your best working environment. However, one site, Good.Co, stands out. Describing itself as a self-discovery engine and social network, through the use of psychometric frameworks, the platform helps employers recognize people who would thrive in their unique environments, and for jobseekers, it assists in figuring out where they fit in the cultural landscape.
Accessible via webpage or app download, Good.Co features a series of quizzes for users based on the Big Five dimensions of personality. There are six different sections of the platform: the Strengths Canvas (individual personality evaluation), the Company Canvas (a survey that looks at how well you fit in with your managers and company), the Fitscore With Peers (compare and match up your results to friends and colleagues), the Team Report (discover your work team’s personality), the Company Graph (find companies and teams that match your personal work style), and Job Matches. Here are our archetypes from the Strengths Canvas and Fitscore.
It’s intriguing how accurate these insights are about our personalities. So, if you are on the job hunt or just curious about yourself check out sites like Good.Co. We believe they can offer sincere insight that can help you find the right companies for a happy and successful career.
Do you have any other insights into company culture? How to determine what would work best for you or what to look for in companies to determine their culture? Share with us in a comment below.
– Savannah Valade & Caroline Robinson