Finding a Good Match between Personality and Corporate Culture

by Sherry Heuser

I communicate every day with individuals seeking new roles in the nonprofit sector. Each person is different, with varying skills, education, experience and goals. However, one trait remains the same across all of them: they want to work for organizations they can personally support, missions they believe in and environments that energize them. In a nutshell, they want their personality reflected in the corporate culture of the organization, and a corporate culture that embraces their personality.

We all know that a bad fit can ruin a relationship, but a good fit can establish the foundation for years of partnership and growth. How do you know if you are considering an opportunity that would be a good match? Below are some thoughts to ponder.


Who will be your coworkers and who supports the organization? Look into who the other staff members are and to whom you will be reporting. While you want a diverse, interesting team of colleagues, and donors who are connected to the organization in various ways, you also want to be part of a group that supports your work style and shares your vision of success. You likely will rely on, lend a hand to, and "live" with this group for more hours than you will sleep every day.


Where is the organization located and where will you be working? You may be the type of person who enjoys a long commute to get ready for your day or prefers overseeing a regional scope of services, in which case an organization in a neighboring town could fit well with you. But, if you want to walk to work or have an immediate impact on your local community, you should look for positions closer to home. The extent of work-related travel, size and setup of the office, and proximity to other responsibilities in your life are all aspects of your work location you should consider.


What activities do the position and organization encompass? Although not all of your daily tasks will be exciting, you should find a mix of familiar and new, comfortable and challenging in your scope of responsibilities. The mission should be one that you care about and are willing to share with friends, family and colleagues. You should be comfortable and genuine when talking about the services provided, policy stances, and values. If you would not willing to donate your time and money to the organization, it probably isn't the best match for you.

Finding a match can be tricky, but the rewards are immense. When we are pleased with the people we work with, the place we work and the things we do, we are able to help our team, office and organization move forward. We are successful and happy in our work life.

Bottom Line: Paying attention to what we know about ourselves and what we can learn about a potential new job and organization can help determine if there is a strong personality-corporate culture match, the key to productivity, longevity and achievement.

Sherry Heuser is president of Capability Company Consulting, a Raleigh, N.C.-based firm supporting nonprofit organizations' searches for key hires.

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