7 Connections Between Your Happiness & Company Culture
3 minutes to read
I love the stories my father told me about his time in the navy during the 1950s. One of my favorites is about when he and his shipmates walked into a bar and found some Marines there. They exchanged taunts. The Marines called them swabbies. They called the Marines jarheads. A fight broke out. But in the midst of the brawl some soldiers came into the bar. All of a sudden the swabbies and jarheads joined forces against the army.
Reintegration is a Cultural Transition
This story sums up so much about military culture of the 50s. Post World War II, men were primed to fight like their fathers or brothers had. Marines thought the navy was filled with wimps who dropped them off on the shore of an island held by a hostile enemy to do the real fighting. Sailors who had engaged in ship-to-ship combat saw the risk of being sunk and drowned as far more dangerous than land-based combat. Each service branch’s culture defined them.
Like the military, private sector industries and companies have distinct cultures. After World War II, millions of service members returned to civilian life. They made organizational culture in the private sector more like the military than it ever had been before. Over the decades, the similarity has decreased. Besides defense contracting, you won’t find an industry that feels like the military.
Part of deciding where to focus your job-hunt involves understanding the kind of culture where you’ll fit in. Then you’ll need to find an industry and companies that, as well as possible, match your vision.
Culture Determines If You’ll Love Your Job
Aside from general comfort, culture affects:
- The length of your workday and week. In general, and especially working up to deployment, you worked until the job got done. But your pay stayed the same regardless. Civilian life has formed different expectations about task completion and compensation.
- After hours time you’ll have to spend handling work matters and socializing with co-workers. Hours can be long in the private sector. With smart phones, everyone has a “crack-berry.” Going out after work with colleagues and your boss may be the only way to advance your career.
- Your work environment, employee interaction, and competition among colleagues. Remember mandatory fun days? Some companies make fun an integral part of their culture. At such a place you may wonder why they don’t get to work so they can finish and go home.
- Interaction with other employees, managers, and senior executives. Regulations and customs dictated dealings with your colleagues and leadership. Though they aren't in writing, most companies have strict protocols. Yet they may require a casual approach that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- The kind of workspace you’ll get and what kind of personal items you may have there. Custom and protocol dictate these issues in the military too. In the private sector, you may have to negotiate them. Surprisingly, getting the wrong office may hamper your advancement in the company.
- Perks offered by the organization. Break rooms, gyms, and childcare facilities were standard in the military. Not so in the private sector.
- The training and personal development you’ll get. For the most part, you knew what training benchmarks you had to meet to advance your military career. The matter is much more open in civilian life
You can see that company culture impacts every aspect of you work life. So you’ll need to examine it at three points in your job-hunt:
- When deciding which industry and organizations to target.
- Before you go to a meeting to discuss a job. (Never go on a job interview.)
- Prior to accepting an offer.
If you want to love your job, culture is central. You should practice the four ways of figuring it out:
- Research – On and Offline.
- Onsite observation.
- Talking with people who work in an industry or at a company.
- Asking questions during a meeting to discuss a job.
If nothing else, at some point in every meeting the person will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" This is your invitation to learn as much as possible about a company’s culture.
What do you need to know so you can research company culture more effectively?
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