Culture: More Than Fitting In

Like the air we breathe, culture is often defined simply as, “the way we do things here” at an organization, and it impacts how we thrive at work profoundly.

By most measures, organizational culture matters to companies and to employees for two key reasons:

  1. It determines an organizations ability to sustain its health over time vis-à-vis performance and results.
  2. It reflects the day-in and day-out behaviors likely to be in place for employees who work there, which determines ease of fit and probability of long term partnership.

But culture fit is highly subjective. For instance:

Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with passion.”
-Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO, Airbnb

“We try to have the kind of a culture that doesn’t value excuses in the sense that when you’re supposed to accomplish something, and you’re at a high level, then your job is to accomplish it, in spite of difficulty. And you’re rewarded for dealing with that.”
-Phil Libin, Co-Founder, former CEO of Evernote 

“We have a culture where we are incredibly self critical, we don’t get comfortable with our success.”
-Mark Parker, CEO, Nike

“Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture.”
-Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations, Shopify

“There’s no magic formula for great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.”
-Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

Summing-up: So how can you assess fit? It is often the invisible and hard to quantify dimensions of how an organization does things (culture) that most affects what it is really like to work there day in and day out. Listen to your intuition and, most importantly, spend time really knowing yourself and the kind of environment in which you thrive.

 

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