Time to read: 3 minutes
Many articles have been written about the top things to look for to detect a toxic culture. I ran across one this week that prompted me to share my view on culture (toxic and otherwise).
Culture of an organization is set from the top. It’s not team members, associates, family members or employees that set culture. Instead, culture and the tone of an organization is set from the leadership. Culture is what I like to refer to as the "personality of an organization". Culture is not changed or set overnight. It starts at the forming of the organization and is morphed and changed throughout the life of an organization based on the day-to-day interactions people have with one another and leadership.
During the interview process, it should be important for the company and candidate to understand each other’s personality and culture. It is frustrating for both parties to have culture misalignment. Candidates should ask interviewers to describe the culture of the organization. Be comfortable with silence and let them speak. This applies to any person considering joining an organization or team. It might be a recruitment for a college athletic program or a job interview. Research into the culture of the team should be important to the candidate as well as the interviewer.
There are various social media platforms that offer a glimpse into views and thoughts from customers and former staff / employees about an organization (facebook, Google reviews, GlassDoor, etc.). Although these can be helpful in providing insight into an organization, they don't necessarily depict the culture of the organization. Instead, these platforms serve as a forum for satisfaction levels of customers and former staff members.
Culture is how the organization operates and encourages its members to operate in their interactions with each other. In other words, based on the various situations that arise every day, what type of behavior, interaction and reactions are encouraged and rewarded within the organization. Leadership of an organization sets the tone for these interactions.
Some organizations have a culture that is completely focused on bottom-line results. I've seen some organizations pay lip-service to how much they value their team and their people. In fact, I guess I can't think of a single organization that has said we don't value our people and we want them treated poorly. However, it's not what an organization says or puts in print, it's reflected in their culture.
I encourage you to research culture for any prospective organization. Try to understand as much as you can about how the organization encourages and allows interactions between its members. This will help make a better decision for you in whatever team you are considering joining.