Whether you're on the job search or contemplating your fit in your current company, one thing that will be a priority in your thinking is the company culture. There are many definitions of culture available, but one I like is simple and comes from Nick Sarillo, CEO of Nick's Pizza and Pub. In his book A Slice of the Pie, Nick says, "culture comes to life most completely when team members elicit company purpose on their own terms and in their own ways, as a form of self-expression."
I think everyone can agree that a company culture is completely unique and that employees may or may not fit within that framework. This fits with the idea put forth in contingency theory. This theory states that there is no single best way to design organizational structures.
I don't know when the business buzz phrase "best practice" came into being, but I know it was latched on to. I can't recall a time in my career when it hasn't come up. In fact, any time a change is being initiated in a company, the tendency is to look to other companies to find out who is doing it, how they are doing it and if it is a success. This can be fine for some issues and problems, however, it does not work when creating, molding or shaping culture.
What works in a company and is highly successful is due, in large part, to the culture and acceptance of that company's employees. Look to companies like Amazon, Zappos or Google and you'll find a litany of information on what they do and how (quite uniquely) they do it. Search for "Google Best Practices" and you turn up over 66 million results. For Zappos? Almost 33 million. The key that we seem to forget is that they are modeling after NO ONE.
They set their course, they determine the risks of their approach, and then they execute. They are successful because they incorporate approaches that are consistent with the company values and with the values of the colleagues they employ. There is buy in. There is purpose. There is a desire to give their all. When any of those components is missing, the best practice won't take hold.
So what should the job seeker or more passive candidate consider when looking at potential employers?
- Does the company foster an innovative environment? What examples are public or will they share to demonstrate this? An innovative company is often proud of the fact and will share with the community.
- Will the supervisor provide challenging work assignments? Really dig in on this point because most people don't want a role where they will not have some amount of challenging work.
- How are employees recognized? Typically candidates only look to the things like salary and bonuses when they interview. Next time, ask if they give recognition daily. Do supervisors thank people when they notice good work? Does the company have any other type of recognition program in place? Do the supervisors and managers use it or is it just for looks?
- Are employees connected to the organization's mission? Do they have a meaningful mission you can connect to or do they have one that sounds like it could be for any generic company? Check online. Employees who believe in company culture shout it from the rooftops. They post about it on social sites.
- Are the leaders intentional, honest, and do they interact with integrity? Critical that you have an employer you can believe in.
When the job seeker does the due diligence, they are more likely to find a career than a job, as an employer, you want to offer that career.