Helping Clients Identify Their Ideal Workplace Culture
By Lori Jazvac.
Organizational culture is an important, but often overlooked aspect of career-related exploration and decision-making. This component should be addressed with clients in order to help them secure a rewarding role aligned with their particular career goals and values.
Workplace culture: the glue that holds an organization together
Clients often share that they dislike the way things are done in their organization, or they don’t agree with company policies. Some have been advised by recruiters during interviews that they may not be the best fit. These scenarios demonstrate the power and influence of organizational culture.
An organization’s culture can impact its bottom line and brand, as well as its team members, clients, and stakeholders. It represents the backbone of an organization, shapes how things are done, and influences the beliefs, values, traditions, and behaviours of its employees and stakeholders.
Culture in the workplace is more than clearly defined policies posted in the lunchroom. What matters is whether policies and best practices are consistently communicated, implemented, and aligned with organizational values and goals. In fact, high employee performance and retention, less absenteeism, and fewer conflicts and safety incidents are common traits of organizations with healthy, solid cultures.
Help your clients understand the importance of organizational culture
As career professionals, it’s important to coach our job-seeking clients so that they fully understand their unique value. Knowing their value, it’s then vital that they conduct research on all aspects of the organizations they’re targeting. This will help them shorten their job search cycle, and ultimately provide them with greater career satisfaction and potential for success.
To help clients identify their ideal workplace, consider addressing these key areas:
- Driving motivators. Is your client seeking interesting work in a growth-focused environment? Or is salary or work location a primary motivator?
- Vision and mission. Help your client outline the ideal company and position in a vision/mission statement, including the client-specific must-have, nice-to-have, and must-not-have criteria. A clear focus will help eliminate companies and roles that are not a good fit.
- Targeted company. Does your client prefer to work in a start-up, mid-sized, or large corporation? What industry? A large company may offer room to move up the corporate ladder, while a small company may offer experience in diverse areas.
- Workplace artifacts or symbols. What workplace objects, pictures, historic artifacts, colours, or physical signs represent personally meaningful symbols for your client? These could be things such as photographs or artwork displayed in the work environment, corporate colours and logos – even the choice and placement of office furniture could have particular significance to a client.
- Company philosophy and style. Is your client seeking a traditional, entrepreneurial, or does your client long for a free-thinking company culture that believes in investing in qualified talent?
- Core skills. Which skills will leverage the client’s unique value? These could be things such as change leadership, problem solving, or technical skills.
- Workplace values. What workplace values are essential for your client? Some examples include the following: team collaboration, quality, integrity, or a client-centered focus.
- Leadership style. Does your client favour transformational, coaching-based, or laissez-faire leadership? A survey based on a 3-year study by Daniel Goleman revealed that a manager’s leadership style contributed to driving 30% of bottom-line profitability.
- Personality preferences. What type of personalities does your client prefer to work with? For example, the client may favour working with team members who are easygoing and social or with those who are ambitious and results-driven.
- Communication policies and practices. How are communications or conflicts handled in the workplace? What’s the frequency of interaction between leaders and employees? Knowing this information will help your client understand his or her own preferred work style and the level of transparency and collaboration that exists in information-sharing and decision-making.
Help your clients promote a healthy workplace culture
Workplace culture changes over time. It can be redefined and improved.
Help your clients to promote a healthy workplace culture by supporting inclusivity and diversity. Observing behaviours, meetings, and discussions for common patterns and gaps can uncover solutions to strengthening the culture. Initiating strategic conversations can affirm goals and actions, leverage team members’ strengths, bridge gaps, and reward successes. Promoting open communication, high ethical standards, and mutual respect can greatly enhance workplace culture and foster empowering change that can benefit everyone.