Finding Your Organizational Sweet Spot – Ron Thomas

“Just so you know I did not take the job. She was not open to me shifting my hours for a few days a week. She just felt I would be working less. She said that for her to allow (that) for me, it would probably be a pay cut. I laughed hysterically in my head.”

That was an exchange from one of my coaching clients. She interviewed for a major sports franchise in the NYC area. Strong brand, the kind that your friends say, “wow you work there”. But in the discussion, she sensed that the rules were rigid. No option to work from home, no adjustment of work schedule. Not only that but to deviate, her boss told her that it would be viewed as not working as much as others and would require a pay cut. As I read this exchange from her, I too laughed hysterically.

Find your greenhouse

As we look for our “greenhouse” to blossom in the search for a better opportunity, we must make sure that this is the place that we can thrive before we get in there.
No matter how desperate you are for a job, or how annoyed you may be at your current gig, there are some companies you’re better off not working for. Even if the money is good, the role seems irresistible, and even your friends saying it’s worth a shot. Accepting a role at a crappy company can set your career back and even jeopardize your future success.

Do Not Apply

So how do you know which companies to steer clear of? There are some tell-tale signs that you should be aware of as you strategize your next step. That step should be a launch pad on your career journey not an entanglement that will have you shaking your head and wondering, how did I get into this mess? Some organization might as well have a “Do not apply” flashing on a neon sign in the window.

So here is a primer on how do you filter through the maze of job offerings with the focus on finding the right fit from you.
At my gym, this morning I had a conversation with someone in the hunt for a new job. He told me that he was interested in this company but they keep seeing the same job being posted every few months for the past year. In HR speak that could mean a few things, either the turnover is high specifically in that role or within the company itself.

The High Turnover organization

Flashing Red Light:
Key roles pop up consistently on a company’s job site.
How bad is it?
A company should not be on the hunt for the same important roles in management or leadership every six months, and if they are that means that they have fallen into a hire-and-fire cycle. This can indicate a few things. First, leadership may be very fickle; unable to land on the specific qualities they want in a candidate. Second, the company may have a bad internal culture which makes retention nearly impossible, no matter how talented the new hires may be. Third, top level goals may be as fleeting as the talent.
What can you do?
If you search a company on LinkedIn, review the employee list and look strongly at past employees: how long were they there, how long are the current employees in their role.
Look for the department that you would be working and look at their profiles to get a sense of their tenure or promotions etc. Yes, you must research companies the same way that they will research you.

The Culture Clash Organization

Flashing Red Light:

Word on the street is that it is a horrible place to work. Negative employee reviews and recruiters evading your questions with no clear answer are all signs that you should consider as dangerous

How bad is it?
A poor company culture may not seem like a deal breaker, but it should be? Remember the recent incident on United Airlines where a customer was pulled off the plane by force. A few weeks later there was another type incident and you wonder whether this is systemic within the culture of the organization. Even the CEO chimed in with a tone-deaf defense. Even if a company’s poor culture hasn’t played out publicly, it can be bad for your career. It’s well known that a positive company culture can drive financial performance and a productive workforce. Therefore, a negative culture can do the exact opposite. A bad culture will not be conducive to your growth.

What can you do?
Avoid companies who have negative employee feedback. Glassdoor is the perfect report card to give you insight of an organization. Yes, some of it may be bad blood between an ex-employee but if the picture you get from reading the comments begin to paint a bleak picture. Stay away. When you interview ask them to describe their work culture and give you examples of how the mission/values tie into work.

The Greenhouse environment

Red flags:
In your interview ask questions about the Training & Development Department. How are people developed? What are the development opportunities within an organization? No emphasis on Career Development

How bad is it?
If I am a new manager, does the organization provide opportunity for me to get better prepared for this new role? Has the organization developed a sink or swim attitude to its talent? A stagnant company is one to stay away from as well because it places little to no emphasis on helping you meet your long-term career goals. In a greenhouse, every plant is provided an opportunity for growth. Sunlight, water and all the nutrients are provided to each plant. While some will not make it, the clear majority will. This type organization knows that to be successful it will have to develop their talent.

What can you do?
Focus on companies that have a strong opinion on development of their employees. Study their website for how they approach developing their people. More questions today during an earnings call are centering more the employee life cycle and employee engagement. If you know people on the inside, ask them questions about their development and their training opportunities offered. Is the company a learning culture?

So as my friend saw some signals that did not sync with her career and her journey, she decided to take a walk. Like the song from years ago: “Take this job and shove it.” Remember the pendulum has swung, employees are in the driver’s seat now. You can choose or you can move on. But to choose you must do your research.

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