How to Tell a Great Corporate Culture from a Bad One

Good company culture vs. bad company culture

I love to read lists of the best companies to work for each year. It is no secret what separates the good places to work from the great places to work. It is the classic battle of the good company culture vs. the bad company culture.

You don’t need a degree in HR to understand that the companies with strong cultures, led by level 5 leaders, are usually at the top of the list year after year.

Happiness is really just about four things: perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness (number and depth of your relationships), and vision/meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself). ― Tony Hsieh

Instead of looking for a company, why not work for a great culture? Instead of trying to build a company, why not birth a culture? So what if you go down swinging, in the long run we need more thriving corporate cultures, not mediocre companies.

How do you define a thriving company culture? It’s group of people with not only the same behaviors and ideals, but the same core values.

In the end you end up with an incredible group of human beings who don’t mind battling side by side each day in the trenches. They understand that they are more than individuals. They are a team working together towards a shared set of values and goals.

Here are a few attributes of strong company cultures that I have worked in:

  • Leadership
  • Honesty
  • Professional development
  • Humility
  • Transparency
  • Work/life balance
  • Kindness

Great company cultures thrive on open and transparent communication. They do not have anything to hide, because they act with integrity and do the right thing for employees and customers alike.

Zappos Puts Their Employees First

I love the Zappos interview process. One person interviews the candidate for technical savvy, the other for culture fit. If the candidate doesn’t ace both interviews, they don’t hire them, period.

Now that we have a better idea of what to look for in a good company culture, here are a few attributes of bad company cultures. Unfortunately, I have also experienced some of these firsthand as well:

  • Politics
  • Micromanagement
  • Gossip
  • Poor communication
  • Internal competition

In a bad corporate culture you will not only be fighting against your external competition, you will actually have to battle your fellow employees for recognition and resources. Gossip will be the primary way communication flows, and management will have no choice but to micromanage their teams.

Bad corporate cultures are defined by their lack of communication
Bad Corporate Cultures Are Easy to Spot

So, the next time you are considering a job change, why not look for a great role inside of a company with a great culture. It will be far more fulfilling than simply looking for jobs that fit your profile. You need a company that fits your values too.

A great company culture culture is formed by bringing together those with very similar core beliefs like passion, curiosity, trust, reciprocity, courage, dedication, integrity, and humility.

There are already enough obstacles to overcome in the competitive free market. Your culture should not be another challenge to overcome. So, the next time you consider joining a company ask yourself one question. Are you joining a good culture or are you joining a bad one?