Evaluating culture in your next career move

Article Seldon-Rosser-Evaluating-culture-next-career-move

Culture is one of the key considerations candidates have when determining if a job is going to be right for them. Most of us have considered a business’ culture when deciding whether to accept an offer, or even deciding whether to apply at all. Being part of the right culture can play a big part in your career progression and your overall happiness. Joining an organisation that values the development of its employees is at the top of the list for most of the candidates we work with.

Culture is often confused with perks. For example, businesses like Google are seen as the gold standard example of what good culture is, and that may very well be the case, but what do companies like these do so well that makes them such a great place to work? While catered meals and ping-pong tables are nice, they aren’t necessarily related to culture.

What is culture and why is it important?

To better understand what type of culture maximises your potential it’s useful to jot down your experience of how factors such as values, attitudes, communication styles, leadership and teamwork affect and enhance your day to day. It’s also worth remembering that even within one organisation, culture can vary between countries, offices, teams or departments. Most people’s experience of culture is the environment created by the people they work with; which is often fluid.

Culture is always changing

Culture is not static and there are many catalysts which can cause it to change either positively or negatively.

Can you recall a time where the management changed or a key personality in your team departed? People come and go quite often, and the culture shift that sometimes follows (if negative) can be a reason our candidates are looking to move.

World events can also lead to changes in culture. The impact of COVID-19 has pushed businesses which might otherwise have been reluctant or slow to implement flexible working (or working from home) arrangements to adapt quickly. Organisations which have long had a ‘face-time’ culture are having to trust their teams to be productive and responsive while 100% from home. They are learning that they can function just as well as they did before.

It’s extremely valuable for professionals to master their ability to be flexible and adjust to the culture around them. Changes to the environment around you are a great way to test your resilience and adaptability to things outside of your control. You can learn a lot from working outside of your comfort zone, and how you perform with the challenges presented can do a lot for your reputation in the market.

How to determine if the culture of your current organisation is right for you.

The simplest way of assessing this is asking yourself questions on how you feel about work. A handy checklist could be:

  • Does your work environment energise you?
  • Do you interact well with the people you work with?
  • Are you learning new skills?
  • Do you feel you are getting the support you need for your career development?
  • Are you passively “open to opportunities” – if so, why?

Interestingly candidates rarely change jobs because of whole of firm culture – yet it remains an important consideration when looking to join another business. Team dynamics and specific team or practice culture tend to make more of an impact.

How can you understand the current culture of a business before joining?

It can be difficult to gauge the existing culture in a business before you consider joining. You may have heard about a negative experience from a former employee, or from someone who knew a former employee. But how well can you trust what you’ve been told? You may not be getting the story in its entirety.

There is due diligence that you can do, and questions you can ask to make an informed decision on whether the culture is right. Questions such as:

  • What is the team dynamic?
  •  How engaged is the business in BD & Marketing?
  • Are there people in the firm who have had great career development?
  • What is the L&D plan?

Without asking questions like these and discovering for yourself, it is very difficult to make a fair judgement of an opportunity based on the hearsay about culture. We often recommend meeting the team in their own environment is a great way to test culture. Knowing whether there is chemistry with the team or stakeholders can be very helpful in determining if it is the right fit.

To ensure you aren’t missing out on a great career opportunity, you can ask these questions directly to the manager during an interview or have your Seldon Rosser consultant ask questions on your behalf.

Talk to us for more advice on how to navigate concerns around culture.

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