How to Tell If a Company Has Great Culture

When searching for a new job, sometimes the position doesn’t matter as much as the organization does. Sure, what you do on a day-to-day basis matters, but it’s really the company’s culture (the values, norms, and practices) that has a major impact on employee’s happiness and success. A recent New York Times story explains what you should be looking for when you ask yourself, “How is this organization different from all the other organizations?”

Surprisingly, people think their work cultures are more distinctive than they really are. According to Adam Grant, there are three fundamental issues that you should look at to determine whether or not a company has a good culture: “First is justice: Is this a fair place? Second is security: Is it safe to work here? Third is control: Can I shape my destiny and have influence in this organization?” While there are lots of little things (like how an office is decorated and the unusual terminology that is used by workers) that influence the culture, all you should look for is a company that is just, safe, and controllable.

“When the big boss is human, the little guy makes it to the top, and leaders try to protect employees even when times are tough and mistakes are made, we judge the culture as just, safe and controllable.” Grant recommends ruling out the companies that are known for having bad culture first and then start taking a closer look at the organizations that are known for having positive cultures. Specifically, ask about the meetings. If people find them productive and enjoyable, that’s a good sign. 

To learn more about the art and science of creating an extraordinary workplace, read The Best Place to Work.

What is the culture like at your company?