We find culture in everything we do. There is a national culture, a family culture, and a school culture. So, it should not be any surprise to us to discover that culture exists in the work environment, too. We all understand the dynamics of a work environment; some of us would prefer to work in one type of environment over another, and the primary reason is because we are comfortable with the culture. In fact, research studies tell us that people are more likely to stay on their job where the culture that exists supports their personal values and encourages their success.

Before you can understand how to describe company culture, you first need to understand what you’re looking for. A company culture is basically a measure of its common practices and beliefs and how they match with the internal beliefs and preferences of its employees. A good example of this can be seen in a company that believes in giving its employees recognition for the work they do. However, within that company, you may have one employee who prefers receiving a monetary reward for his work, while another may find this type of reward a form of manipulation.

It is important for both employer and employee to have a clear understanding of a company’s culture. This understanding can have a major impact on how well an individual will do within a particular environment. So, here are a few basic tips on how to identify your company’s culture.

  • Look up your company’s mission and vision statements: Even a shareholder’s report can tell you a lot about how the business identifies itself. They tell you what the company wants to accomplish and how it wants to be recognized. These are important clues to the internal environment of the company.

  • Evaluate the Hiring and Training Process: If you are a manager and are looking to recruit the kind of people who will fit into your company’s culture, it is important to take a close look at your training methods. Take time to review the training materials, the company manual, and other resources you might have. A strong company culture will provide materials that are organized, personalized, and open to personal participation. If your onboarding process doesn’t make them feel comfortable and part of the company from the beginning, then you’re less likely to keep innovative and dedicated candidates for your company.

  • Observe how the team interacts: Relationships within the company can also give you a solid clue as to your company’s culture. Observing how co-workers interact with each other is a good gauge. If they are being respectful, working together as a team, and there is a free flow of dialogue between each other, then you are likely building a strong and solid culture.

  • Conduct a series of interviews: An even more detailed analysis of a company’s culture is to have direct interviews with the different employees. Make sure you interview a nice cross section of people so that you get the viewpoints of both employees and management. Ask them to describe the company’s atmosphere in very simple and basic terms. When you hear their opinions and ask them to back them up with reasons why they like or dislike the company, you’ll get a really good idea of the dynamics of the working environment.

No one solution will give you a perfect picture of a company’s internal culture, but if you use a combination of these four, you’ll get a much more accurate picture. Many people tend to be reluctant to speak negatively about their work environment, even if it is an accurate expression of their true feelings. So, if you really want an open and frank discussion about the company, you also want to get the opinion of a third party who has some background in organizational culture analysis.

A good review of your company should give you several different cultural qualities that can give you insight into the health of your organization. However, you don’t want to rest on your laurels, the “once and done approach” for looking at your company’s culture. If you truly understand the importance of company culture, then regular evaluation of your company’s environment can help you to identify problems as they arise. This will allow your company to build and maintain a lasting healthy corporate culture and avoid the challenges brand repair and replacing employees who find themselves dissatisfied with their work.