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How to Screen a Company for a Good Culture Fit

Aug 4, 2012
Thomas J. Walter and Molly Meyer

If both the company's culture and core values do not line up with yours, there is little hope that the two of you will grow old and gray together

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Perhaps you’ve heard about this phenomenon via television shows or movies. Maybe you’ve read about it in books and articles. Maybe your friends or family members have boasted experiencing it, but you’re still not convinced it’s real. How does it feel to truly love the place you work, and does your workplace truly love you? Is a loving relationship between you even possible?

To answer these questions, there is one terrifically central concept that you and your organization must adapt if you are ever to enter a mutually-loving relationship: a good culture fit. This lies at the very center of your happiness together, regardless of job titles, job descriptions, desk space, office views and all the other “hearts and flowers” that come with being in a relationship with your organization.

The question remains: how can you screen a company for a good culture fit? Perhaps more importantly, how can you do this before getting in too deep and risking heartbreak?

Why Do You Need to Screen for Culture?

Shouldn’t it be obvious if the two of you aren’t meant for each other? No immoral, unethical organization hides that easily under a drape of warm, fuzzy advertisements and happy people. Maybe it’s not quite that extreme, but there are organizations that are hanging in limbo. They haven’t quite figured out what’s most important to them, or they haven’t shared it with everyone in the organization. There’s doubt, uncertainty. Anyone that’s ever been in a relationship knows that including those ingredients will spoil even the most ravishing of appetites.

Then there are those organizations that have made up their minds. They know what they want, and they know what is important to them. But, despite all of the good aspects of the job, you can’t seem to launch yourself fully with the company’s vision. Wouldn’t you rather know now that you won’t be truly happy, rather than waiting around, hopelessly dreaming of the day when your company changes its philosophy?

A Good Culture Fit is a Must

All of the above leads to unfulfilled potential, lack of focus, boredom and discontent—none of which are loving relationship material. According to the Gallup organization—which pioneered the Gallup 12 Poll to measure employee engagement—employee engagement stems from the manner in which an organization conducts its business. This statement focuses on how a company conducts business on a day-to-day level between co-workers, superiors, leadership teams, departments, vendors, clients, potential clients, partners and so on. All of these are the very components of culture.

Additionally, discretionary thinking is a large part of any relationship. Are you 100 percent focused on your organization? Are you thinking about it when you’re not at work?

Discretionary thinking is what you do when you actively pursue a thought—spending it on exactly what you want to think about—at your discretion. What happens when you actively want to think about your organization, or your organization’s goals and your goals?

Of the total thoughts

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