Is the company's culture right for me?

The conversation about workplace culture is often analog: good or bad. But what if a different question is asked: Is it right for me?

Written By
Drew Weilage
November 12, 2017

Workplace culture is a constant topic in my social circles. 

As more people look for (and find!) meaning and identity in their jobs they are also increasingly holding their workplaces to certain cultural ideals. And it seems the idea of workplace culture being important plays out across generations, not just something important to millennials.

What I've found most interesting is the way workplace culture is commonly framed in these conversations: it's either good or it's bad (and often it's just bad, because that's what makes it conversation worthy). There's very little gray.

It's an analog assessment. Good or bad. It's that black and white for a lot of people. 

But good or bad as the defacto workplace culture evaluation feels incomplete.

There are logical instances when we can universally apply the bad culture label to the workplace: sexual harassment, bigotry, misogyny/misandry, and generally anything else frowned on by Human Resources or the law more generally.

But outside of that—what's good? What's bad? 

Well I think it depends. It's a matter of personal preference. 

Remember that New York Times exposé on Amazon from 2015?

The article painted the company in a negative light as being a workplace that operates at an unrelenting pace and unsympathetic to those uncomfortable with that reality.

Amazon is an incredibly innovative company. They are arguably executing strategy better than any other American corporation. That type of environment probably provides the right type of person with exactly the opportunity they were looking for. But it's probably not the place to find happiness at work for those looking for something else culturally. 

So if you were job searching and looking for something other than what Amazon is offering it seems foolish to think you could go to work for them and think it was going to be different for you.

The analog good or bad evaluation of workplace culture is insufficient for the modern workday. 

Perhaps the right way look at workplace culture is through a lens of individual nuance: is the company's culture right for me?

It reminded me of Austin Kleon's praise for the "It wasn't for me" idea when it comes to books (and just about everything else):

I like the phrase because it's essentially positive: underlying it is the assumption that there is a book, or rather, books, for me, but this one just wasn't one of them. It also allows me to tell you how I felt about the book without me shutting down the possibility that you might like it, or making you feel stupid if you did like it.
It just wasn't for me. No big deal.
And "me" changes, so when you say, "It wasn’t for me," maybe it’s not for the "me" right now—maybe it’s for future Me, or Me lounging in a beach chair in Jamaica, or Me at fourteen.

Workplace culture not as good or bad but as "it wasn't for me" or "that's my jam!"

Workplace culture as right for the individual and the individual's interests, but not for everyone.

Through The Work is a creativity development studio for healthcare pros embracing The Transforming—the always-happening, always-unfolding state of change in your job ... and using it to make more of the change you know should be happening, happen.

The Transforming is the most important professional opportunity of our careers—one that will lead to new job opportunities, real change, and a transformed industry for all of us and everyone else.

My name is Drew Weilage and I work in healthcare, too. At Through The Work, I help people like you make develop a creative practice to do your best work.

Oh, and pep talks! Get a pep talk when you need one: big day, bad day, or any day at all. Text me at 646-450-2465 or send me a note.

Through The Work Writing

Ideas & Inspiration

Ideas and inspiration on The Now of Work to fuel your thinking, learning, and creating. Get inspired.

Get Organized to Get Creative

Being organized is the foundation of a creative practice and creativity. Here are a series of guides to help you get organized at work. Get organized.

learning from the (Work) experts

Talented people have worked on similar problems to the problems we're now solving. Thankfully for us they've shared what they've learned. So let's learn from them.

(Personal) Professional DEvelopment

Your current role can be viewed as a platform to get better at the work you do and how you do the work. Your professional development is a you activity. Make it work for you.

work/Better

Why we work the way we work is important to understand ... so we can create something better. Here's what's happening.