Choosing the Right Company Culture For Your Personality

In our last post, we explored Why Company Culture Should be the Most Important Criteria in Your Job Search. Working for a company with the right culture can increase your happiness on the job, increase your engagement by letting you leverage your innate strengths, and allow you to advance further and faster along your chosen career path.

We also took a high-level look at what company culture is. In essence, it consists of the unwritten rules and norms in an organization. That said, what kinds of company cultures might you actually encounter in your career? And how do you determine what kind of company is right for you?

 

All About You

“Know thyself,” says the ancient Greek maxim - and sounder business advice has rarely been given. If you want to thrive in any organizational environment, you need to understand your own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.

There are a variety of tools available to help you better understand your work personality. Some of these include:

  • DiSC Profile: Based on the research of psychologist William Moulton Marston (who also created the first functioning polygraph and the comic book character Wonder Woman), the DiSC personal assessment tool produces a detailed report about your personality and behavior (DiscProfile.com), especially as they pertain to your specific work environment. Various DiSC assessments are available online, and employers frequently offer them as well. The tool rates you along the dimensions of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. The result is often encapsulated into a pattern such as The Achiever, The Persuader, The Perfectionist, etc. Further information may be provided to help you better interact with personality types other than your own.
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): Developed by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers based on the work of Carl Jung, The MBTI produces a more innate and less work-specific personality profile. The tool scores you along the dimensions of Introversion/Extroversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/Feeling, and Judgment/Perception. This then ranks you into one of sixteen types which can be described in terms similar to DiSC patterns, and likewise used to facilitate better work interactions
  • StrengthsFinder: Created by Donald O. Clifton, the father of strengths-based psychology, the Clifton StrengthsFinder focuses exclusively on your personal strengths and how best to leverage them. Organizations or Teams who use StrengthsFinder may signal a more flexible work culture that recognizes different styles, rather than forcing everyone into pre-defined processes. 
  • 360-Degree Feedback: A variety of tools are available to collect 360-degree feedback from colleagues, which can be another invaluable way to understand your strengths and weaknesses as they apply to the workplace.

All of these tools (and many others) can be useful ways to get to know yourself better, but none of them is indispensable. The important thing is to take some time to consider what it is that you can uniquely contribute to an organization, as well as what kind of organization you feel most satisfied contributing to.

Which brings us to the question of what kinds of companies are out there.

 

Company Culture Types

We’ve all worked and studied in different environments, and it’s easy to see that organizational cultures are not all the same. That said, what are some of the differences that can help you find a workplace that’s well suited to your needs?

Researchers have advanced numerous theories and models to try to encapsulate the wide variety of companies that are out there.

One popular example is the Competing Values Framework and the corresponding Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) developed by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn, which divides organizations along two axes: Flexibility vs. Stability, and Internal vs. External focus. Based on these, the four quadrants are defined as four company culture types: Clan Culture, Adhocracy Culture, Market Culture, and Hierarchy Culture (OCAI-Online.com).

There are a variety of similar models. In general, definitions of company culture tend to make use of some of the following variables:

  • Size and Structure: How big is the company? If there are divisions, how are they organized (functionally, geographically, by product, etc.)? Who communicates with whom, and how? Are decisions made by rank and title, or does the best idea win?
  • Work-Life Balance: Are hours fixed or flexible? How are vacations and sick days handled? What about maternity/paternity, and other life events?
  • Formality: Is it suit and tie, or does Casual Friday start on Monday? Is your boss Mrs So-and-So, or Suzy?
  • Communication Style: Do people tend to be diplomatic, or do they get directly to the point? Are thoughts and opinions shared openly?
  • Teamwork Style: How do teams collaborate? Is the work mostly independent with a bit of coordination, or is everything a team effort?
  • Stability vs. Risk: Does the company take a long or short-term view of success? Do they dive headfirst into new challenges, or take a more measured approach?
  • Success: How does the organization view success? What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to evaluate teams and individuals? Is it all about the profit, or does the company look to do good while doing well? How is success rewarded?

Given all of these different aspects of company cultures and what you know about your own work personality and preferences, how do you go about finding that perfect match? And how can you tell if a prospective employer might be just what you’re looking for? Like or follow us and stay tuned for the next installment in this series: “Could This Be the One? Evaluating the Culture of a Prospective Employer.”


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