Culture = People
I have toured so many organizations where the tour guide shows off a gaming station, or a basketball court, or a lounge with puffy couches and free drinks and snacks…and describes these things as part of their superior culture. I love a good session of GTA, a game of hoops, and free food as much as the next person, but company culture has nothing to do with these perks. You can’t buy culture.
Management guru Peter Drucker’s famous quote, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, is more accurate than most leaders care to recognize. In the long run, culture determines who wins and who loses. A culture that inspires people to reach heights that they never thought possible is the one that wins. Giving them a vision and a mission so that they can have real, meaningful impact is a fundamental desire of productive individuals. Greatness and innovation is never obtained without the best of the best when it comes to people. Places with great cultures hire great people.
If you want to get a sense of a potential employer’s culture, pay attention to every single interaction that you have with them. If possible, go into a location for a visit, just to observe or ask questions. How does it “feel”? How much attention is paid to their digital channels, and is it engaging to interact with them digitally? When you contact them to apply, how responsive are they to you? Do they treat you like you’re a pleasure or a nuisance? Is the process rigorous because they are trying to assure that they get the best possible fit every time they hire, for every position?
If culture is not important to you, and you just need a job to pay your bills, then I suggest that you find the place with the coolest break room.