Organizational Culture: Finding Your Fit

Guest post by Lindsay Pingel, Director of Community Engagement, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Finding the perfect pair of jeans … THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!!! Time, energy, research, trial and error often go in to the process. On top of that, there are so many characteristics to look for – comfort, versatility, dressy vs. casual, dark vs. light denim, slim fit, flare, durable … the list goes on and on. The process can sometimes seem never ending, but when you finally find the pair – the PERFECT pair – the energy, confidence and fulfillment you feel is worth the wait.

This same process can be used to create and define the culture of an organization. No matter what size, type or arena your business aligns with, all institutions have a mission, vision and core principles that define its culture. Trends, traits, time periods and people can alter these characteristics at different times, but at its core, the culture remains the same.

As a job seeker or long-term team member of an organization, it is important to know what kind of workplace culture is best for you before you accept a job or as you continue to grow within an organization. Some things to consider are:

  • The mission, vision and values of the organization. If you can’t align with the core values of an institution, it probably isn’t the right place for you.

  • Leadership. Does your director/manager practice what they preach and empower their team to grow and illustrate the core values of the organization?

  • Flexibility. What does flex time, PTO and/or sick pay look like? Is there flexibility within your position to set your hours as personal priorities, networking invitations and/or professional development opportunities come up?

  • Autonomy. Micro-managing can stifle an employee’s productivity and create frustrations for staff. Allowing autonomy for individuals can open the door for individual leadership that will directly benefit an organization.

  • Open communication is encouraged.  From the top to the bottom, communication is encouraged. Leadership keeps their staff “in the know,” and encourages open dialogue to brainstorm, find solutions to internal/external concerns, and most importantly, be heard.

  • Happy people. If staff are happy, enjoy what they do, like their colleagues, and are excited to come to work each day, well, who doesn’t want to work at a place like that?!

Like the perfect pair of jeans, different tactics and traits are taken into consideration when an institution defines its workplace culture. This process takes time, strong leadership, employee buy-in, growing pains … the list goes on and on. But in the end, when an institution defines its culture, new opportunities, personal/professional fulfillment, and countless possibilities for future endeavors will emerge and be worth the work and wait.


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