Discovering Your Organization’s Culture

Last week, we discussed the importance of understanding your organization’s culture.  In this post, we are going to provide some specific tactics for discovering the culture of an organization:

  1. What is the history of the organization?  Is it at start-up or a long-established company?  Learn how the organization began and the path it followed to get to where it is today.
  2. What significant events impacted the organization such as a merger, bankruptcy or initial public offering?  Was there a scandal involving a leader of the organization?  What about a major world event such as 9/11?  These significant events may shape or even change the culture of an organization.
  3. Has the CEO written a book?  Learn about the leadership of an organization and you’ll learn a lot about its culture.
  4. What is the organization’s mission statement and how closely is it followed?  The size of the gap between the stated and the actual mission could be very revealing.
  5. What is the organization’s role in the broader community?  Is the organization generous with its resources?  Does it encourage employees to donate time and money to charitable causes?  These answers may tell you a lot about an organization’s culture.

    What does this sign say about the organization’s corporate culture?

  6. What subtle hints can you find around the workplace?  Look around for the many indicators that reveal an organization’s culture and don’t forget to check the parking lot.  This photo is from the parking lot of the PepsiCo corporate headquarters in Purchase, NY.  What does this reveal about the culture of this organization?

Related Post: A Muddy (Corporate) Culture

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