The Highlands Company Blog

Company Culture and Your Individual Style & Abilities

The better you know yourself, the better you can make a career selection that suits you. And when you are well-suited to a career, your chances of success are exponentially higher.

In addition to knowing yourself, it’s also important to be aware of the other half of the equation: the company you are about to join. Every company has its own culture, and as Church and Conger point out in a recent HBR article, When You Start a New Job, Pay Attention to These 5 Aspects of Company Culture, knowing the cultural rules will help you to better navigate a new job.

And to be clear, it’s not only about evaluating the rules but also adjusting to them, which is another area where self-knowledge provided through the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) can prove to be a tremendous benefit. By knowing your natural personal style, your approach to solving problems, your optimal work environment, and your most efficient means of learning and communicating, you can evaluate an organization’s culture for the degree to which your natural gifts and style fit in—both from the organization’s standpoint and from yours.

Following are the five key cultural dimensions identified by Church and Conger and some of the ways in which knowledge of your HAB results can better equip you to navigate the new system.

Companies differ in how or if they cultivate relationships among co-workers and between upper management and the rest of the staff. Some value collaboration, while others keep a closed-door policy and expect employees to produce solutions on their own. From the HAB, you would want to consider your natural personal style and how it fits with the company culture. For example, are you naturally a Generalist or a Specialist? A Generalist will prefer a collaborative work environment while a Specialist will crave time to work independently. Your natural Timeframe Orientation can also have an influence. Do you naturally cultivate relationships over time or do you place a premium on more immediate task completion?

What’s the communication style like at the company you’ve joined? Are there constant hallway meetings with answers expected on the spot? Or are interactions more scheduled and deliberate? Believe it or not, your natural personal style and communication abilities play a big role here. For example, natural Extroverts can appear to shoot from the hip with a tendency to think aloud, while Introverts can appear to be more reflective, analytical, and thorough.

Companies also differ in the way in which decisions are made. Perhaps they are most often made in real-time, during formal meetings, and then finalized offline. Or perhaps meetings are a formality and the “real” decisions are influenced or made during informal discussion. Your natural problem solving style (consultative, analytical, diagnostic, or pragmatic) influences how you tend to arrive at a solution. A mismatch between how you make decisions and how the company makes decisions can lead to frustration for you and a stumbling block for your company’s effectiveness.

Individual Versus Group Perspectives
Some companies reward and recognize individuals for accomplishments, while others put more emphasis on the contributions and achievements of the group. Your HAB results will tell you where you fall on the continuum of Generalist/Specialist, and that will let you know which type of environment would be more comfortable and which would require more adaptation. Generalists are wonderful at delegating and sharing tasks and keeping the group perspective at the forefront, while Specialists like to dig deep into one or two specific areas.

Change Agents
The last cultural area identified by Church and Conger is a company’s orientation to change. Some are quick to adapt to change while others resist it. Even when an outsider is hired to come in and “shake things up,” he will fail if he doesn’t understand what that means relative to the cultural norm, or doesn’t take the time to build the necessary buy-in from key stakeholders. Both personal style and driving abilities play into how people approach bringing about change, and the various combinations will help you understand if you are highly assertive, fast-paced, and results-oriented, or more collaborative, process-oriented, and reflective.  

Keep in mind that with all of these factors you can learn to flex out of your style. But when you are starting a new position, you want to know how much of your environment will put you in or out of your comfort zone so you know where to focus your energy.

If you haven’t taken the HAB yet, don’t wait any longer! You can start making informed and intentional decisions about the type of work that you do and the environment where you will thrive and have the greatest impact. Contact us today.