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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
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?
- 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?
- 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?