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July 23, 2021

It's obvious that one should always try to avoid working for a crooked, nasty or poorly run company. But the types of companies that could make you miserable go far beyond the obviously bad ones; you could work for an exceptionally managed enterprise and still be unhappy. Why? Because the corporate culture could be a terrible fit for your personality.

For example, if you're someone who loves competition, constant change, and innovation, you're far more likely to thrive in an Enterprising culture than a Social culture. But the opposite is true if you love collaborative environments that prioritize emotional wellbeing and the lines are blurred between professional relationships and friendships.

Based on over 20,000 responses to the Leadership IQ test, What's Your Organizational Culture?, we know that there's a great deal of variability in the corporate cultures that people most value. Believe it or not, some people love Hierarchical cultures while others desire a Dependable culture with its processes, rules and stability. Some want the relaxed environment of the Social culture, and others want the meritocracy of the Enterprising culture.

 

The key to you joining a company with a culture you'll love is twofold. First, be honest with yourself about the types of corporate cultures where you've historically been happiest. (The aforementioned test can help you discover the differences between the various types of corporate cultures).

We know from the research that three of the most important cultural issues for determining someone's fit and fulfillment are the lines between professional and personal relationships, the clarity of job roles and the balance between innovation and planning.

 

Second, when you're interviewing with a new company, you'll want to ask three questions at some point in the recruiting process. These questions aren't the standard, "How would you describe the work environment?" You'll have to work harder to get past the standard corporate recruiting pitches. These three questions require some explanation and probing if you have any hope of truly revealing this company's culture.

Question #1: How would you describe the types of relationships that people have here? For example, is there a strong line between professional relationships and personal friendships? Or is the line pretty fluid? Could you tell me about employees' relationships with one another?

Question #2: How would you describe the way job roles are defined here? For example, are job roles very structured and defined? Or are they more fluid and flexible? Could you tell me more about that?

Question #3: How would you describe the balance between creativity and predictability here? For example, is following a plan more valued than thinking outside the box? Or is it the other way around? Could you tell me more about that?

Each of these questions will reveal a distinct aspect of the company environment. And, of course, you'll want to have thought about your ideal environment before you start asking the hiring manager these questions.

Perhaps you love a workplace where you leave relationships at the office, have clearly defined job roles, and there's lots of planning and predictability. In that case, you will probably be unhappy at a company where everyone parties together outside of work, people adopt a jack-of-all-trades attitude towards their job roles, and things feel a bit chaotic because people constantly toss out crazy ideas.

This is not about finding a supposedly great corporate culture. Well-run businesses can be successful with a wide range of corporate cultures. Rather, this is about helping you find an environment that fits your personality and is most likely to create a fulfilling career.




Image Source: Getty Images