Understanding the Corporate Culture – Key Questions to Ask Yourself

When first joining an organization, regardless of the role, it is important that you take time to understand the corporate culture. There are a variety of ways to do this, including getting to know the other departments and their function/purpose within the organization and introducing yourself to others within the organization.

To understand the culture of your organization – which will help you to better fit into the organization and be successful in your role – answer the following questions:


  • Who are the key people within the organization – those that are successful, called upon to help out when problems arise, pitch in regularly without being asked to do so, are “visible” within the organization?
  • How do the key players in the organization influence others? Do they speak up frequently if something does not appear to be right or they don’t agree? Or do they remain silent because things just can’t be changed from their perspective?
  • How does your organization work with other departments?
  • What are the processes and procedures in place for your department? How about for departments you interact with regularly?
  • What are the rules of the organization? How about the “unspoken” rules?
  • What are the values of the organization – what is most important to them?
  • How does the organization interact with clients – internal and external?
  • How do decisions get made within the organization? Who are the key players for strategic decisions? Who is involved in making non-strategic decisions?
  • What are the key business priorities for the organization as a whole – what are the goals – this year? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? Longer?
  • What are the key priorities for your department – this year? 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? Longer?
  • How does the organization communicate: From within departments? From department to department? To external clients? From the leadership team? What works most effectively for communicating in each situation?
  • How are meetings run within the organization – face-to-face? Virtual? Conference call? What is the best way for you to contribute in meetings within your department? How about meetings with various departments participating?

Ask others in the organization what makes them successful in their jobs. What have they learned that they can share with you to help you start off on the right foot and be effective in your role? Employees are often willing to help out new employees by guiding them in the right direction to help them achieve success in their role.


By understanding how the organization functions as a whole, as well as how each individual department/business unit functions and interacts with each other, you have a better understanding of the corporate culture of your organization. Get to know the individuals who are successful – who are the “go to” people in the organization, who others speak highly of – these are individuals who can help you to fit in with the organization and be successful too.

Gina Abudi has over 15 years consulting experience in a variety of areas, including project management, process management, leadership development, succession planning, high potential programs, talent optimization and development of strategic learning and development programs. She is Partner/VP Strategic Solutions at Peak Performance Group, Inc. ( http://www.PeakPerformanceGroup.com ) in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Gina blogs at http://www.GinaAbudi.com.

She has been honored by PMI® as one of the Power 50 and has served as Chair of PMI®s Global Corporate Council Leadership Team. She has presented at various conferences on topics ranging from general management and leadership topics to project management. Gina received her MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.

Copyright © 2009 – 2010 Gina Abudi – All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


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