You hear it all the time — someone says, "I want to work for a company with a good culture." Just what does that mean? What is a "good company culture," why is it so important, and how can you choose the best culture for you? • According to management.about.com, "company culture" is the sum of values and practices shared by a company's employees. It goes on to say that companies with adaptive cultures that are aligned with business goals outperform their competitors, some say by 200 percent or more.
So, what do these companies with adaptive cultures have in common?
• A specific mission statement that includes their values, their commitment to quality, integrity, their employees, their customers and their community.
• A plan to align that culture to business goals.
• The ability to change and modify quickly as necessary.
• Employees who are empowered, motivated, feel free to communicate, and have a stake in how well the company does.
• A willingness to communicate both good and bad news quickly and a commitment to implement a plan to overcome negative situations.
Yet, even the most progressive firms are aware that over time their company culture will change. Like a flowing river, circumstances, changing markets, leaders and key employees leaving and coming in, new products and services and increased competition all will affect company culture. How well the culture survives depends on how well it has been developed and nurtured and how strong it is.
Do your homework
Once you've decided, here are some tips that will help you link to a company with the best type of culture for you.
• Talk with people who work there.
• Read articles about the company and its leaders in print, online, in trade journals and in business publications.
• Check into the company's financials. Is it holding its own through this recession? Is it growing or slipping? What are its future projections?
• Is there a growing market for the company's products and services? Is it innovative and planning for future markets? How is competition affecting it?
• How well and how quickly does the company respond to negative news? BP's slow response to the oil spill, its seeming lack of understanding of the people directly affected, and its CEO's apparent disinterest will color its reputation and the reputation of people working for it for years to come.
Marie Stempinski is founder and president of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing, business trends and employee motivation. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.