Identifying an Organization’s Culture During Your Interview

Given that studies show that more than 40 percent of executives who are recruited from outside an organization leave (give up or shown the door) within 18 months and that the most common reason is “poor fit”, the whole matter of cultural fit should be paramount in the mind of any executive thinking of changing jobs.

Guess which question is the one many executives fail to ask during their job search?   What is your culture?  

The reasons for that stunning omission run the gamut, from not wanting to upset or offend the prospective employer, to an aversion to torpedoing their chances for a new job that represents a nice career promotion.

In my career advisory practice, I am frequently asked by executives who have suffered a career setback over the cultural mismatch issue, “What could I have done differently?”

Here are some of the questions executives should consider asking before they end their site interview. 

  1. What are your/the organization’s values?
  2. How are these values evident in the organization’s decision making and how people treat one another?
  3. How are these values evident in how patients and their families are treated?
  4. What will your vendors say about these values?
  5. When making decisions, how do these values come into play, especially in close calls?
  6. How much does the organization allocate each year for CE for line and management personnel?  Is this seen as an investment or as an expense?
  7. What rituals does the organization observe in recognizing success?  Is this confined to management meetings or are directors encouraged to takes these rituals and celebrations to the department level?
  8. What does the management team do on a daily basis to promote improved quality and enhanced safety for patients?
  9. Who comes first, the employees or the patients? 
  10. How often does the CEO make rounds to visit with employees?
  11. How do people treat each other when no one is looking?

What questions do you ask to identify an organization’s culture?

The Importance of Lifelong Learning, Change

“What Got You Here Won’t Get You There”, the title of Marshall Goldsmith’s wonderful  book on leadership and growth,  speaks to the need for executives to commit to a lifelong cycle of learning and adaptation.  The word adaptation is a nice substitute for the big “C” word:  change. 

You can’t adapt without the learning and you certainly will fail as a leader if you believe that learning by itself will suffice.   Learning without adaptation is a dead end proposition.   As we speed forward through the twenty-first century, executives must embrace this fact of professional life and do so with a sense of urgency.

The real challenge will be to keep up with the pace of change which is accelerating.  Moreover, exceptional leaders, will push to have their organization make a similar investment in leadership development for  their middle managers.  That is a key to sustainable success and a wonderful pillar for a healthy culture.