We each put special attention into the environments we create for ourselves from choosing our life partners and friends to deciding on our form of transportation, home and the interiors within. All of these life pillars must pass our personal litmus test in order to be a viable complement for our personality, value system and life vision; knowing multi-dimensional fit is optimal for a lifetime of happiness and success. The average worker spends 40 to 60 hours per week at their place of employment – shouldn’t we be putting the same litmus test to work when making the decision as to where we will spend half of our waking hours? Perhaps if we re-prioritized our “needs list” for career choice, company culture would move to the top of the list and salary would take second seat.
Our research work conducted by our internal industrial psychologist, along with the broader research literature, show when we are paired with organizational cultures that correspond to our personal values, work ethic and life passions, we will thrive far more than when our personality clashes with the surroundings where we spend our time. When there is compatibility with workplace culture, jobs become meaningful and a sense of happiness and wellbeing take over. The connection to work then becomes intrinsic and rewarding with benefits that are far-reaching, including great energy and passion for projects, goal setting and success.
When looking for a new career, here are four things recommended by Jared Lock, Ph.D. (our active Industrial/Organizational Psychologist partner) to help lead you to a better career and life, not just another job:
1. Evaluate what is important to you in the next job and be honest with yourself. Is it the technology and type of projects you get to work on? Do you have to like and want to hang out with the people you work with? Do you want a boss who shields you from corporate politics, allowing you to focus on your work? One way to better understand this list is to think about your last 2-3 jobs and list out the best and worst parts of each. This list should help you define your wish list for future organizations.
2. Create your own organizational interview. Once you have your list from above, turn it into 4-5 questions that matter to you and then (this is the most important part), ask these same 4-5 questions of every person that interviews you in the organization. You are looking for similar responses and responses that match your wants/needs. Some sample questions might be things like, “what is one thing you would change about this organization’s culture if you could?”, “what is the manager’s style and how does he/she react when things go wrong?”, or “how do employees get rewarded when they do solid work?”.
3. When narrowing in on a company and a job, find out about their employment failures – i.e., those employees who did not work out. A simple LinkedIn search also will identify local peers and colleagues who used to work at the organization. Contact them (through LinkedIN) and ask them about the organization and why they left. Do their statements correspond with the organizations? The point? Most of the work up until now has been about looking for compatibility (both you and the organization). You owe it to yourself to also look for areas of potential disagreement. Many job seekers are scared that this scrutiny will look bad, but research shows that organizations value this line of questioning (even if it is uncomfortable) because it shows you are serious and committed.
4. Ask the organization to spell out the first 3-6 months of employment. How will they help you learn? Who will show you the ropes? When will you be expected to perform on your own? What are the three things you can do yourself to best ensure your future success? Through these and similar questions, you are asking the organization to outline your on-boarding process. You want them to show you how they will set you up for success. Make sure their plan aligns with how you learn and grow in organizations.
Workplace happiness varies from person to person. What may be good for one person may be an epic fail for someone else. Don’t be so quick to assume your paycheck and skill match alone for the job will set you soaring to new heights. Take the necessary steps to assure you’re aligned, head and heart, with your potential place of employment. Research shows that people who are happy and fundamentally connected to their workplace culture will be more productive, collaborate at a higher level and stay at their place of employment longer. That’s a win-win!
Get started with Paige’s Intelligent Pairing Assessment and see where you fit.