Use the ‘Parking Lot Test’ to Discern Corporate Culture

Amy Schuman

Arriving at the client’s headquarters, I noticed that only 3 of the 15 visitor parking spaces right in front of the building were occupied. As always, I parked my car at the very back of the lot, which was quite full. Also parked way in the back, I recognized the owner’s car, and several vehicles belonging to Board members and advisors. Board meeting day was always like this. The Board members and owning family members all park in the back, leaving the close-in spaces for the team members.

The Parking Lot Test tells you a lot about a company’s corporate culture and values. When the top management and family ownership welcome the chance to leave the best parking spaces for their co-workers, you can bet you will find many more examples of a terrific culture. When owners consistently park their own cars in the Visitor’s spaces right by the front door, well, you can draw your own conclusions as to what this might say about the corporate culture and values.

And yes, team members and co-workers – not employees – populate this company.

Note this is not some California high tech company with ‘foosball’ in the lobby, it’s a mid-west retail-related company that’s consistently won its industry’s top awards as well as being named as one of the Top Employers in their region.

What other practices would you expect to see here, just based on the Parking Lot test alone? Stay tuned for more in coming days.

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