Do You Love Where You Work?

What I’ve noticed in my travels from organization to organization is that there are many, many talent people who work at organizations where they were never a good “fit” or are no longer a fit at the company. The result is high turnover and lackluster employees. People may stay in their positions with no passion for what they do, unhappy, disengaged, and unmotivated, or they may leave and try to find another, better position at another company.

There is a way to shortcut this unhappy journey.

When you’re considering taking a job or accepting a promotion, the key is to ensure not only that your skills and abilities match up with the needs of the organization, but that you fit well with the organization’s culture. There are a couple of things to consider: the culture of the organization at large and that of the team of which you will be a member.

The following are a few suggestions offered for reducing the risks of becoming a casualty of cultural conflict:

  1. Know thyself. It is vital to understand yourself as fully as possible — especially your business-related beliefs and decision-making processes. It’s also helpful to identify those aspects of different cultures that you relate to and those you don’t. Write them down and refer to them as you gather data about the opportunities under consideration.
  2. Inquire about the culture at hand. Do people treat it as “that soft ‘people’ stuff?” That in itself tells you a great deal about where and with whom you will work.
  3. Use your network to verify what you have observed about the company’s cultures. Former employees, suppliers, or consultants can shed light on what you will actually encounter. You can also ask to obtain permission to talk to a few potential peers, direct reports, maybe even your boss’s boss. Think through the questions you want to ask about “how things get done around here” to get a sense of how much agreement there is about the makeup of the organization’s culture.

Remember, while a new situation may seem like the perfect match, failing to fit adequately with the company cultures you encounter will increase your chances of not loving where you work. What’s more, the higher up you go in any organization, the more important fit becomes — and the more difficult it is to recover from a situation that “just didn’t work out.”