Culture in Organizations

Posted by Editor Kristi Heidel

The following contains an excerpt from Harrison Barnes, The Importance of Culture in Organizations, www.hb.org (Oct 26, 2016).

Employees’ level of success and overall happiness has more to do with a particular culture (which is sometimes also referred to as the personality of an organization) than with any other factor. …Just as the work, salary, and prestige level can vary from employer to employer, the cultures within each organization can be very different. …Suffice it to say, that your success and happiness in your career may have more to do with your thoughtful and intelligent decision to join an organization that best fits you culturally. People simply want to be around people they like, and when people like each other in the workplace, both sides of the relationship benefit.

When an employee…evaluates offers based upon where she believes she fits in the best, that employee is far more likely to find happiness and success in her career. The problem, however, is that most employees are competitive by nature, and “fitting in” is not nearly as easy to quantify as things like money, company cars, and other perks.

Many people, in fact, have subordinated much of their happiness in life in pursuit of money, respect, power, and admiration from their peers. This leads many people to base their entire concept of happiness on things like having the largest house, the most expensive car, and other traditional accoutrements of the American Dream.

[I]t is…difficult to evaluate an organization’s culture and whether working in that culture will keep you happy over the course of your career.

Many…attorneys stopped practicing law two to seven years into their careers because they became disillusioned. Most of these lawyers say things like “I would never work in another law firm. I would only work as an in-house attorney.”

The resumes of these attorneys are sometimes littered with one firm job after another, where the next and then the next firm were virtually identical in terms of culture to the very first firm that the attorney joined right out of law school.

The key to true job satisfaction is determining which organization’s culture suits you and your career. Finding the right culture will allow you to find a job that won’t feel like work. What is going to make the difference over time is not a $5,000 per year salary differential, but whether or not you feel comfortable and appreciated in a particular environment. No matter what the reputation of the organization is, going through the process of discovering who the people are and what they think of you and your skills will be the best indicators of your potential long-term satisfaction and success.

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