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How To Find An Organization Worth Working For

By

Patricia Soldati is former President & COO of a Fortune 500 national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1999. As a career specialist, she helps corporate professionals find work they love -- both within the corporate arena, and by leaving it behind.

Sadly, many “top” companies today would likely flunk a spiritual audit.

Hidden behind the endless talk of organizational values, are profit-driven, high-pressure labor camps trading paychecks -- and diminishing perks – for your soul. All of which means that uncovering a company's corporate culture is a critical task for today’s job searcher. As important as the job itself.

Finding a Company That Meets Your Needs

To find a company that recognizes you have needs and desires beyond the workday – children, aging parents, personal interests, church and self -- start with the highest level view of the qualities that make any organization spiritually rich:

  • Trust, active participation, mutual respect, and a feeling of belonging.
  • Open, honest communication flowing up, down and across an organization
  • Congruity -- stated values are healthy and consistently practiced.
  • Leadership emerges and is welcomed at all levels

The cumulative result of these four patterns is a high "group intelligence" which produces organizations that are flexible, responsive, and able to react to change quickly. These companies respect you as an individual and are productive, profitable entities.

3 Steps To Uncovering Cultural Truth

You may never completely know a corporate culture until you have worked at the company for a while, but you can get darn close with the right kind of research. And do be pro-active. If there is an organization that you have even a inkling that you might like to work for – take them through this 3-step process.

1. Know your own cultural values. Use the list of questions below to create your own prioritized “cultural checklist.”

Community Spirit / Mutual Respect

  • Do employees at all levels address each other by first names?
  • How are new employees assimilated into the company?
  • What programs or events exist to foster team spirit?
  • How were you greeted?
  • What do employee’ voice mail greetings sound like?

Work-Life Balance

  • Is there a flex-time program?
  • Is tele-commuting an option?
  • Is there daycare?
  • Is there a corporate wellness program?

Open, Two-way Communication

  • What mechanisms does the company have in place to get feedback from its employees?
  • Is salary information accessible to all employees?
  • How are decisions made - and how are those decisions communicated?
  • Who sits where at meetings?

Atmosphere

  • Is it relaxed or formal?
  • Is there a casual dress code? Does it operate at all levels of the organization?
  • Are you free to drop into your bosses office? His boss?
  • Are all employees on a first-name basis?

Performance

  • To what degree does the company emphasize results?
  • What opportunities exist for training and personal development?
  • How do employees learn/know what is expected of them?
  • Is there latitude for creativity and innovation?

Inclusion vs. Exclusion

  • Are people of various backgrounds and personal preferences welcomed?
  • Is there a Diversity program?
  • How successful has the organization been at fostering diversity?
  • What is the percentage of (women or minorities, etc.) in management positions?

    Rewards and Recognition

    • Are employees appropriately rewarded and recognized?
    • What is the basis for rewards and recognition? (i.e., individual vs. team vs. organization based; performance vs. tenure)?
    • Are non-sales based contributions recognized?
    • What recognition programs are in place?

    Physical Environment

    • Does the physical environment provide comfort and inspire productivity?
    • Is the space attractive, clean and well-kept, with equipment in good working order?
    • Are there differences due to status or function?
    • Are personal office/cube spaces decorated ?

    Groups and Networks

    • How political is this company?
    • How are promotions earned?
    • Are there collegial groups within the company?

    History

    • Does the company have a sense of history…of legacy?
    • Is it communicated inside and outside the company?
    • What are the stories and myths that people talks about?
    • Are these shared internally and externally?
    • In what ways does the organization fulfill its social obligations to the community?
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