In this era of workplace change, what is most important to a prospective employee? You might say salary and title but you would be wrong. CULTURE comes out far ahead. People want to work where they “fit in” and where Purpose is ahead of profits. In a study (Joanne Martin, Stanford University) reported by Adam Grant in the Sunday, December 20 New York Times, (Which Company is Right for You) after interviewing employees in every sector, seven narratives emerge reflecting sought after cultural attributes: They come in the form of seven questions an employee is likely to ask:
1. Is the Big Boss Human – Is he/she willing to pitch in and help out just like “one of us.”
2. Can the Little Person Rise to the Top? Is there a track record of upward mobility.
3. Will I get fired? While layoffs may inevitably occur, are employees from top to bottom treated fairly.
4. How will the boss react to mistakes? Grant relates a famous story: at IBM when an employee made a mistake that cost the company $10 million, he walked into the office of Tom Watson, the CEO, expecting to get fired. “Fire you?” Mr. Watson asked. “I just spent $10 million educating you.”
5. Will the organization help me when I have to move?
6. What Happens when the boss is caught breaking a rule?
7. How will the organization deal with obstacles?
The major themes that emerge is what the themes of culture have always been: rules are meant to be followed by all with all on the same page, support is provided for all even if it doesn’t work out in the end, and the long game is more important than the short one.
Culture is rising to the top because of its importance particularly in an era of employee independence and unprecedented choice among the most talented.