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How to tell if you're in the right company culture

By Maureen Lynch, Director of Hays Ireland

During an interview stage, the interviewer does an excellent job at selling their company culture, one that you would ideally enjoy working in during your career. Shortly after the interview you are offered the role and make an impulse decision to accept it. However, after working there for a few months you begin to notice the culture that was sold to you in the interview doesn’t necessarily match to what you are experiencing.

You wonder if maybe it’s the job, but you still enjoy what you do and you’re good at it. You are certain it’s something about the environment you’re working in, an element that’s not tangible. It’s at this stage you might be facing a personality clash with your company culture, but how can you be sure and what should you do next?

Below, I outline signs that show you if the company culture fits you or not.

1. You feel like an outsider

Usually you are an outgoing, sociable and chatty person who is more than capable of making friends at work. And yet, in this job, you can sometimes go an entire week without having a proper conversation with someone (or at least one that isn’t about work).

The problem is, unlike in previous jobs, you just don’t feel confident socialising with these new colleagues because you don’t feel part of the “in-group”. You avoid making jokes and adding to the conversation for fear of saying the wrong thing, and half the time you aren’t invited to join in anyway. Consequently you keep your head down, you eat lunch alone, you avoid team outings, and in truth, working at this company has become quite a lonely, isolated existence.

If this sounds familiar, then I would class this as the first sign that you are in the wrong company culture. Whilst everybody is different, and you can’t necessarily click with everybody, the right company culture would make you feel welcome.

2. You find it hard to be heard

It’s one thing to feel isolated on a personal level, but you also feel left out in a professional capacity. You find it hard to get your ideas across to colleagues in meetings, and you have noticed that people either disagree with you, or worse, ignore you altogether. As such, you have avoided speaking up completely, which you know is damaging to your career progression.

Nobody should feel isolated at work. If you do, then this boils down to the fact that you aren’t in an open company culture where all ideas are embraced and everybody has an equal chance to get their voice heard by senior management. These types of inclusive work cultures do exist, you just need to find one.

3. You don’t feel driven

As I said at the beginning, you love what you do. Anyone who knows you would say you are diligent, passionate, and that you take pride in your work. And yet with this position, your motivation levels have hit rock bottom. Why is this? If it’s any of the below reasons, then this is symptomatic of being in the wrong company culture:

  • You feel uninspired by senior management, and all of your colleagues for that matter
  • The company don’t seem to recognise, reward or celebrate success, at least not in the way you would like
  • Your work ethos is not aligned to your employer’s. Either everybody works too much, or too little
  • The company don’t seem very invested in your career development and lifelong learning
  • You no longer care about the values, purpose and overall vision of the company, or the part you play. In fact, you wouldn’t care if they went under tomorrow

A combination of the above is enough to make anyone feel apathetic at work. What’s worse, is that this is now impacting your performance, and could hinder your longer term career goals.

So what’s the next step to take?

The company culture is the personality of the company, and you can’t get on with every single personality, meaning you won’t fit in with every company culture. Therefore it’s important that you aren’t too hard on yourself, but treat this as a learning curve, and think carefully about the kind of culture you will fit into before making your next move.

  • Identify the type of culture you do want to work in, from how inclusive they are, to how they progress their employees and recognise success. Pinpoint everything you don’t like about this company, and how your next one will be different
  • Talk to your recruiter – share your ideals as well as your overall career goals with them. They will have a rich client database and a good understanding of the personality of these companies. I would also advise reaching out to your professional and personal connections to see if they have any recommendations
  • Before interviews, check out the company’s social media page and online reviews -these can give a good indication of company culture
  • During interviews, look for clues about the company culture, for example, how the interviewer answers the question: “How would you describe the team dynamic?”

You wouldn’t choose to wear ill-fitting shoes every day, so why put up with a poor cultural fit? You deserve to feel a sense of belonging to your organisation, for the sake of your career progression and day to day happiness. So get out there and find a company culture that does embrace your values, work ethos and personality type, and just watch yourself thrive!

For more information on your recruitment needs, please contact your local consultant

About this author

Maureen joined Hays in 2000 where she specialised in Senior Accounting and Finance recruitment. With over 17 years’ experience, Maureen is the Director for Cork, Limerick and Galway along with over overseeing the Banking and Construction & Property operations in Cork. She also provides training expertise in the area of candidate screening and interviewing.

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