One Culture Does NOT Fit All – Get it Right Before You Pull The Trigger

Every company and, thus, every culture is unique.  Culture in an organization is critical to align people to a common goal; culture binds an organization together. Aligning employees to a culture is critical for the success of the organization. People need to feel like they fit in with the purpose that a culture brings to an organization. Not every organizational culture is suited to every person.  As a result, both employers and potential employees have a responsibility to make sure that the culture is a cohesive fit.

From personal experience, I have seen where a culture was not truly acknowledged by a company and, as a result, not communicated to potential employees.  Over time, more and more individuals that did not fit with the culture were brought into the organization.  This group of employees became disgruntled.  Although they tried to change the culture to what they were told management wanted the culture to be (even though it was not this in reality), they made little progress.  Many of them ended up leaving and tarnished the company’s reputation in the market; the former employees were not ambassadors for future hires with recruiters, candidates, etc.  So how can we try to address this issue moving forward?

For employers, regardless of what the culture of your organization is, it is critical that it is acknowledged by management and honestly communicated to every potential employee, upfront and often, so they know your expectations and what they are getting into before they actually take the job.  “Sugar coating” your culture will increase the risk that the employee does not fit with the culture that you have or are trying to create.  If you end up with a person (or, even worse, people) that are different than the culture of the organization, they can be a threat to the culture itself by acting and influencing others to go against the organization’s true culture and strategic objectives.

For candidates looking for a new opportunity, it is critical that you examine and assess a company’s culture as much as the position itself to ensure it is the right fit for you; it is important to figure out what the culture of an organization is before you accept to work within the culture of the organization.  If you can’t get a sense of a culture during an interview process, the culture that you think exists may be suspect. When assessing a company for employment, it is important to get a sense of their culture by asking the right questions; the answers will be indicative of the true culture that exists.  

The following are the 4 (or so) questions that you can ask each person you meet to get a better sense of the culture of your potential employer:

  1. Does the organization have a formal, written culture statement that is clearly visible throughout the facility?
  2. How would they describe the culture of the organization?  Is it collaborative?  Are people accountable for their actions?  Do people work well in teams?  Is the mentality of the organization to live with the status quo, or are they always looking to make things better?
  3. What does senior management do to understand if the culture is operating as planned?  What does senior management do to support the culture?  Do they walk the talk?  
  4. Are senior management’s direct reports held accountable to disseminate the culture throughout the organization?  If so, what are the consequences if they don’t?

Culture can make or break an organization. It is critical, through the interview process that both the employer and potential employee evaluate that there is not only a great fit for the position, but a great mutual fit for the culture as well.  Anything less will inevitably turn out to be disaster for both parties and, over time, can become a significant reputational issue for the company in the market in which they operate. 

Prism Partners International can help you develop leaders in your organization by identifying and developing the skills they will need to be successful.  Through our proprietary rating process and development plans, we can isolate the areas for improvement, including those around interviewing and communication skills, and hold the employee and their supervisor accountable to make the necessary adjustments for success.

Please contact us to learn how we can help.  We invite you sign-up for our weekly blog posts at and access our management reference material on our website’s Resources page. We also ask that you join our LinkedIn group, Strategic Human Capital Alignment Forum, Like Us on Facebook (Prism Partners International) and Follow Us on Twitter (@PrismPartners).