You may think you have an impressive set of intrinsic beliefs and behaviours that attract top-rate teams, but does your company’s culture walk its talk?
High quality employees are naturally drawn towards a business that boasts a caring culture, strong leadership and great values, but there are some tell-tale signs that will flag up if your claims are fake.
Jared Lindzon, writing for Fast Company, offers job seekers some tips to spot whether a company’s management is paying lip service to an ideal that lures the best candidates, while masking an underlying toxic culture.
His advice is chiefly directed at graduate interviewees, but Lindzon’s observations act as a wake-up call for leaders whose proclaimed culture might be failing at grassroots level.
Here are some key areas where your authenticity might benefit from closer scrutiny:
1) Perks of the job. Giving stuff to staff doesn’t equate to a caring culture. You can provide free lunches or put table-tennis tables in a relaxation room, but that’s superficial gloss.
2) Look, listen and learn. Some companies thrive on a formal, regimented environment, while others blossom in a more laid-back climate. Does the atmosphere feel right when you walk around your workplace? Is the layout conducive to communication and cooperation? How do your employees interact with each other?
Piyush Patel, founder of online training company Digital-Tutors and author of the book Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work, says listening offers good insights. “What does it sound like?” he asks. “Do you hear panic? Do you hear fear in people’s voices? Do you hear excitement?”
3) Aroma awareness. An office that smells of food suggests that people eat at their desks. “I use that as a litmus test in my own leadership,” says Patel. “If people are eating at their desks we either don’t have a good plan or we’re scrambling when we should be scaling.”
4) Bathroom etiquette. Something as simple as whether your employees would replace an empty toilet roll when they visit the bathroom can indicate whether you are successfully fostering a culture where everyone looks after each other’s well being.
5) No hurry, no worry. Even if you are a fast-expanding startup business, taking enough time to recruit the right staff shows you are not simply looking for bottoms on seats. An over-long, dithering process is equally unconvincing.
6) Questions and answers. Are you equipped to respond to tough queries from job candidates that test your company’s values? For example: “When was the last time something detrimental happened – like losing a major client or a round of layoffs – and how did management handle it?” How you answer will reflect the truth of your culture.
7) A matter of size. Does your culture match the scale of your business? People who apply to work for smaller companies are often looking for a friendly atmosphere, while those seeking to join larger organisations might want to be sure they can make a difference as an individual, as well as contributing to the broader picture.
Taking an honest, outsider’s look at your company’s culture from time to time is a great way, not only to check your authenticity, but to make sure you are attracting the cream of job candidates.