MY CULTUREMATCH™

Working in an organizational culture that's a bad match for you is a recipe for disaster. You're not only going to be unhappy, you're very likely to be unemployed soon.


This analysis was developed for you based on the assessment of the four fundamental dimensions of personality, each of which has a parallel in organizational culture. Each scale is independent of the other three, and are neither positively nor negatively related.

CULTURE FACTOR

MY SCORE

arrow COLLABORATION AND CONSIDERATION chart


My Results What Should I look for
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arrow EXTRAVERSION AND DECISIVENESS chart



My Results

You have a very high score on the Extraversion and Decisiveness dimension of organizational culture. This means you will be happiest in a group that values, and whose members are characterized by, an outgoing and assertive nature and also enjoying a leadership role in a somewhat competitive environment. In this culture, pushing an agenda (within limits) to get things done is considered a good thing. People view meetings, discussions, debates, and negotiations not as annoying distractions from the "real" work, but rather as the work -- and they enjoy it. Similarly, while some people view social and business networking as an unavoidable chore, they see it as a fundamental -- and fun -- part of their work.

This doesn't mean that you always have to be the one in charge, or dominate a discussion. But, if you were working in an environment where colleagues don't share their opinions, or where the decision-making process continues until there is 100% agreement, you would be at odds with the prevailing organizational culture. You might come to see your colleagues as untrustworthy (what do they really mean?), and afraid to make a decision and proceed. And, they might come to view you as impetuous, not a team player, and a bit of a "bull in a china shop". Or worse, they may see you as someone who is only out for themselves -- who wants to be the star with a "supporting cast," rather than to help the team win.

You may see quite clearly the value of not everyone wanting to be the leader, or pushing to make decisions now. The problem comes if that aspect of organizational culture is dominant. As one person put it: "I honestly think if we had a nuclear meltdown, we'd form a committee to decide who should be on the committee that decides what we should do. And then, we still wouldn't be able to make a decision."

Can you hold back and let someone else take the lead? Yes. Can you wait patiently for consensus to be reached regarding an important decision? Certainly. Do you like to hold back, and sit quietly in a meeting when you have something to say? No. In fact, it will be a struggle for you to do so, and one that you are likely to lose frequently.

As a person high in Extraversion and Decisiveness, you need to be especially careful in your choice of organizational culture. The person that is quiet, reserved, and low in Extraversion and Decisiveness may be ineffective in a high Extraversion and Decisiveness culture, but the cultural mismatch won't be jarring. On the other hand, the person high in Extraversion and Decisiveness operating in a low Extraversion and Decisiveness culture will be highly visible to everyone around. The saying -- "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" -- is a particularly apt description of a low Extraversion and Decisiveness culture. Be sure not to put yourself in a position to attract the hammer.


What to look for in an organization

  • Does this organization have a reputation for being unusually aggressive in its dealings with other organizations, and for attracting individuals with an aggressive style?

  • How much is success in this culture a function of the size of your "network?"

  • What is the ratio of "work done with others" to "work done alone"?

  • How much business entertaining does the work involve?

  • Regardless of what it is called ("sales," "business development," etc.), how much of the work involves selling?

  • If you have the opportunity to interact with several people from the organization at the same time (for example, over dinner), what is the flow of conversation like? Are people careful to wait until someone has finished speaking before talking themselves, or do they interrupt with comments and questions? Do they seem to feel free to disagree with one another -- in a respectful way)?

  • How much time is spent analyzing and thinking, versus discussing and persuading?

  • How often do you hear words like "star" and "super-achiever" versus "team" and "group effort?"

  • How much is success dependent on professional training and domain expertise?

arrow INNOVATION AND CHANGE chart


My Results What Should I look for
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My Results What Should I look for
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arrow WHAT IS CULTUREMATCH™?

What it measures

There are many ways to talk about, analyze, and measure an individual's match with an organizational culture. In CultureMatch™, we use a method taken from the leading model over the past several decades of research on human personality, each of which has a direct analog in organizational culture. Our method considers four dimensions of personality that are important to consider in assessing a match with an organizational culture.
What it means

As you look at your results, you should pay the most attention to your very high, high, low, and very low scores. If your score on one of the scales falls in the middle range, that means that you have flexibility on that dimension. You could probably be successful and happy in cultures that are moderate, high, or low on that dimension (although not necessarily extremely high or extremely low). And, if you have all middle range scores, this is not bad news! In a sense, it's like having the blood type that makes you a "universal donor" -- you can probably do well in any kind of organizational culture.
How you'll mesh with a company

Many organizations -- or parts of organizations – have a single one of the four factors that stands out as the overwhelming, defining variable of its culture. Pay careful attention when considering joining one of these organizations. If you don't fit very well with that dimension, it may not matter how well you fit with the other dimensions.

Even within the same organization, culture gradually blends from the "macro/general culture" of the company as a whole, to the "micro-culture" of your part of the company. For example, you're likely to see a stronger element of Extraversion and Decisiveness in the culture of the sales force than you'll see in the Research and Development area within the same company. And, the manager role in that same R&D area may have a different "culture" from that of other roles in the group. You should think about culture as having different levels, the most important one being the culture of the role and group you will live in day to day.

arrow LEARNING ABOUT ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

Organizational culture can be defined simply and informally as the unspoken rules that an organization has about behaving and getting things done. Organizational culture is, in fact, a complicated phenomenon that is enduring yet evolving. Read more >

But, a new CEO who wants to "shake things up" may precipitate radical cultural change. Organizational culture comprises a multitude of diverse elements from compensation structure to style of dress to communication style, and much more. Obviously, if you take a position in which there is a mismatch between you and the culture, you stand to lose at least as much as the organization for which you have gone to work. So, it is of the utmost importance that you pay careful attention to this issue.

Culture can be seen at several levels:

  • Whole industries have cultural features. Different manners prevail in the investment banking industry than in the biotechnology industry, and both of these industries have cultural features that differ from the petroleum industry.
  • Within an industry is the culture of the organization itself.
  • Embedded within the organization is the culture of a specific functional area, typically most affected by its current and most recent leaders.

Every organization has a "cultural momentum" created by previous leaders, important historical events, established traditions and larger societal contexts. Year to year, this momentum is subjected to the influence of current leaders, current events and changing societal contexts.

Furthermore, there is typically a "cultural perception lag." If you ask a person on the street to tell you about the culture of IBM or Microsoft, he will probably give you a stereotype that was more accurate two years ago than it is today. If you ask a reasonably informed employee, he will probably give you a picture that was more accurate a year ago. If you ask a savvy organizational development consultant who knows the organization well and is currently active with the company, you might get a reasonable picture of how the culture is in the present. This means that you need to evaluate the culture yourself, as it is today.

Culture is an abstraction that is best understood through the rear-view mirror, but it is also a very real force with important effects on your success and satisfaction each day.

Bridging cultural gaps

There is almost always some tension between an organizational culture, and the personality of an individual entering that organization. If the individual acquires power and assumes a leadership role, he or she may actually change some aspect of culture -- either at the local business unit level, or even at the organization level itself (if the power attained is more extensive). Regardless though, this tension between "my way of doing it" and "the way it's done around here" is almost always present.

Organizational culture, like the wider social culture itself, wants to pass on what has been learned in the past. Like a person, an organization naturally wants to avoid unsuccessful outcomes, and so tends to rely on what has succeeded in the past. Paradoxically, the organization also wants original and creative contribution. It wants to be safe, but it also wants innovation, creative change and growth.

In some ways, this is a mixed message to an individual in the organization, but it is exactly this friction (or gap) that provides a source of energy for change. New people in an organization bring their knowledge, perspective, and way of doing things. These new perspectives modify the culture, even if the change is quite small and restricted to the local environment of a particular business area within the organization.

However, if the gap is too great, it is more likely that the individual will be rendered ineffectual. It does not necessarily follow that if an individual has highly valued functional skill, or was very effective in a previous organization, that he or she will necessarily be effective in a new organization. Business history is filled with examples of highly accomplished senior managers who failed dramatically when they could not adapt to the culture of a new organization. The most successful business professional will bring his or her individuality to the organization in a way that will add new energy and perspective, while still respecting the outer bounds of the existing culture.

If this friction is going to be creative rather than destructive, two things are necessary:

  • an accurate perception and understanding of the culture in which you work
  • an accurate perception and understanding of your own personality, and how it differs from the "personality" of the organizational culture


It isn't necessary that your style be a perfect match with your company in order for you to be effective. However, it is necessary to be conscious of the differences, and to be honest and realistic about the adjustments and compromises that will be required if you are going to be effective in the organization.

You must be aware of the dimensions on which you are at risk for being too far from the cultural expectation of the organization. If you know (and can live within) these limits, you'll be able to bring your differences into play in a productive way. If you do not know the limits, then you are likely to cross boundaries that damage your credibility.
Adjusting to the gaps

Adjusting to a particular culture is like swimming in the ocean. You can use many different strokes, but you also need to understand how the local currents flow. If you don't, exhaustion and frustration are likely outcomes.

You need to think specifically about the match between your personality and your organizational culture along the culture factors discussed in CultureMatchâ„¢. There may be a very close match on some, and a significant gap on others. These larger gaps demand attention. A large gap is not necessarily a recipe for disaster, but it is a call for a clearly considered action plan for how you will address it.

For example, suppose you are a high Innovation and Change oriented person interested in an organization that you have identified as having a moderate Innovation and Change culture. (If you are high and they are low, you might want to steer clear completely.) Otherwise, you think the firm is a good fit for you. You don't need to suppress your innovative tendencies (even if you could), but you will need to learn to become diplomatic and skillful in choosing your timing and venue for proposing changes to business processes (more so than you might otherwise do). Compared to being in a high Innovation and Change culture, you will have to do extra organizational preparation before introducing your new plan or idea.

Knowing about this cultural gap in advance, and planning your adjustments accordingly, means that you will likely become less frustrated and discouraged when things do not move quickly enough for you.
Reading the gaps

Reading culture is difficult. You can study a company's annual report or recent filings with the SEC, and learn a lot about its financial status. But, no such documents exist that address what it is actually like to work there.

That being said, there are some important questions you can ask yourself (or former employees of the firm, or current employees willing to be open about their experiences), which might give you some additional insights about the organization:

  • How meritocratic (pay and promote for performance) is the organization?
  • What is the level of organizational integrity? (how honest are people with each other, and with customers)
  • What is the culture around diversity (racial, gender, sexual orientation, social class, etc.)?
  • Is it a "star" culture or a "team" culture?

And, always remember that culture is best considered at the most "micro" level. So, while it is important to know the culture of the organization, you should also be thoughtful about the actual role you will be playing and the group you will be surrounded by.
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