Culture Clash – Beware

Corporate Culture – How to swim with sharks


All companies have a culture whether they know it, designed it, or it just evolved. So, when you join one be aware you are joining a cult. And like any cult there will be formal and informal group behaviour rules. These rules will govern a value system, how to behave in certain circumstances, even a dress code. If you don’t know the rules you are unlikely to survive let alone prosper. Experience shows that time and time again career success goes to those who fit best into the cult.

So how do you know what culture to look for? 

The answer is to know yourself. As a professional recruiter I can tell you 90% of you out there don’t!

Here is a quick test. Answer these questions:

What really motivates you?

What are your career values?

Where exactly do you want to be in one/five years?

What core career beliefs do you operate by?

What are your ambitions?

Where do your ambitions come from?


Did you find that on asking yourself the above you did not have to think?  The answers were straight there with clarity? If so move to the next question.


Are all of your short and long term goals really yours or those of your peers, parents or friends for you?


If yes, you are in the 10%. If not, I would not put money on you becoming a great career success. Make no mistake the ocean of opportunity out there is full of sharks. Once your ship sails you don’t want to go overboard!


You now have to be able to assess the culture of a target company you want to work for.  You need to establish their values, style, beliefs, motivations and goals.

Here is how:

Firstly, have a clearly defined culture. This tends to indicate a company that is going places. I cannot think of a single exception. The cultures are obvious to the customers. McDonalds, Marks and Spencers, Microsoft, Virgin, Amazon. Clear identity and values. 

The secret of judging how well defined the culture is found by looking for commonality at all levels. 

So it is not how they dress that is important but how they dress relative to each other.  It is not the particular value set that is important in itself but that they and you share common core values.

So look for commonality in every aspect of them.  How they answer the phone, dress, talk to each other, plan out their offices, incentivise their staff, train their staff, report and accounts, marketing, advertising styles, competitive stance etc.

How would you describe the culture of the following organisations?

Google, Disney, British Army, Virgin, Oxfam


Which above organisation do you think would have most of the following core values?

Team work





Attention to detail

Benefit to others




You see, the evidence is all there.

What from the above are the three most important values to you? Success Moves LogoNow which company do you think you would be happiest in and develop most working in? Why?

Now for those of you in the 10% you have to get to the 1% of serious career successes. You will achieve that by knowing your personal profile, match it to an aligned organisation then you will be somewhere which will appreciate and develop your talents best.

The final ingredient is having some talent. Talent is a choice not a gift. I firmly believe that everyone is incredibly talented, they just have to recognise it.