ARE YOU WORKING IN THE RIGHT CULTURE?
You’ve just landed your dream job. You were recruited away with promises of a promotion and a chance to make some real changes in an organization that was described as "desperate" for action. Yet when you arrive, you find out that nothing could be farther from the truth.
How do you know if you’re in the wrong culture? How can you avoid organizations that don’t align with where you stand? Most people don’t ask tough questions or conduct the proper research, particularly when they’re being courted by a company We often wait until we’re hit between the eyes. Being employed in a stifling culture can sabotage your personal brand; therefore you need to be introspective, realistic and courageous.
To achieve any real success, you have to be true to yourself and your values. If you compromise too much, you can’t be at your best, and you’ll likely end up in a situation that’s not joyful. One of the key tenets of my upcoming book, “The Future of You! Creating your Enduring Brand” is to determine whether your personal values align with the culture of your organization.
TAKE A STEP BACK AND EVALUATE.
Beth Banks, PhD., Founder of ADRA Change Architects, recommends making a list of your values and the company’s to see how close together, or far off, they are. If they are off, is it only a temporary situation because your company is in crisis mode due to economic pressures and will come back to their value-driven stance when things ease up?
CONDUCT MARKET RESEARCH.
Ask people you trust what they perceive to be going on in the company culture, and inquire how they’re coping with it. Beth points out that company culture is created and recreated on a daily basis in the actions employees take. If enough employees continue on the path, the company as a whole may find its way back to honoring those values.
It’s possible to set the values you believe in by building that type of culture with your team and amongst your peers. It’s possible to have a great experience in an overall corporate culture that doesn’t feed you, because you and the people on your team are creating your own subculture that does.
Remember, even if you’re in a culture you don’t like, don’t jeopardize your relationship with your boss by showing them up. Bite your tongue and make them look good.
HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY.
If you just can’t compromise, or you feel the ethical behavior of the company is just so atrocious that your values are being challenged beyond what you can handle, I think it’s important to give your stay at the company an expiration date. In other words, set a deadline as to when you will leave.
LOOK FOR WARNING SIGNALS.
How can you avoid walking into another work situation that’s going to repeat the one you just left? After all, people sing a good song when they want to bring a talent onboard.
Before you jump back into a sizzling frying pan, follow the wisdom of Heather Loisel, CMO Practice Leader at SiriusDecisions, to read between the lines. Job descriptions are surface, but really look at how things run. Look at the structure of the company and see if the CEO is the founder. How long has he or she been in that role? If it’s been 15 years, how much has he or she relinquished power?
Heather suggests you investigate how many times management has changed in the last six months, or if the company has been restructured? You’ve got to put your thinking cap on and ask: What’s going on here? Investigate the patterns that seem to be cropping up. Analyze the past in the same way you would a stock. Look at the past few years of performance before you invest in going to work for this business.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE CEO IN ACTION.
Does the company have a mission or value statement? Does the CEO communicate in a consistent way about those values or mission with everyone? If you’ve got a CEO who doesn’t connect the values with people, you’ve got a problem.
How close are you to the flame? For example, one CEO I know of would schedule monthly Friday afternoon fireside chats. Anyone could drop by and talk. Everybody knew where the company was going and what its values were.
Conversely, another CEO I’m familiar with was only connected to the COO and the CFO. Sure, he had an open-door policy, but he only wanted those two people to take his time. Despite any proclaimed mission, his actions were indicative of a closed culture.
CHECK THE LEVELS OF AUTHORITY.
How much authority will you be given in your new job? I’m of the belief that you can have responsibility and accountability, but if you don’t have authority, your hands are tied. You’ll never be able to give them back what they expected when they hired you. Ask questions that help you determine how much power you’ll have and how many layers you’ll have to go through before a decision you make gets approved. You are more likely to have power when you have direct influence on the bottom line.
If you’re being hired with the expectation that you’re going to do something innovative, make sure the company is really up for that. When was the last time the company got behind something really innovative? Is the type of innovative thinking you bring presently being supported by the organization? And what’s the success rate?
In closing, focus on your clear mission statement and set of values. When your values are clear, decisions are easy and that includes deciding to leave (or to stay in) your current work situation.
Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
Trust your gut!
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