Although, I have spoken about this in the blog posts quite a few times (see here The Next Step Blog Posts on Culture and Fit) there is still more to say.
I talk about these topics in both of my published books. In
For careers, it is not as light and fluffy. At the end of the day, YOU (or your parents or your loans) are paying for your college experience and therefore you are entitled to help and focus around your needs and how you feel. In the real world, this is not the case. Your employer is paying YOU so it is up to you to identify and know how to manage your needs to keep you happy in your professional life. My book,
Like anything else, sometimes the “match” does not work out but you can try to avoid this misstep by knowing in advance what type of culture you excel in – do you need to have an overzealous manager who micromanages you (my gut would say no one needs this but some people do need to have direction more than others) or do you need a hands off approach from your management? When you are just starting out, it is hard for you to know this in advance and most people just want to get the best paying job for when they start vs the job that is the best fit. There are pros and cons to each decision you make. Yes, money is “important” but if you are miserable every day, that money begins to feel like a curse and not a benefit. If you love going to work every day (or even a few days a month), you are better off than so many people.
Just look around and ask your friends and family who have to be honest with you – ask them if they are truly happy going to their office every day. You will find most people who have to be honest will tell you that they “hate” their jobs. That being said, sometimes this is just a phase and sometimes this is due to someone being negative and hating everything but for some it is that they made the wrong choice in their career path and now they are “stuck” at a company where the fit and culture is wrong. Sometimes this corrects itself in the form of being fired and/or laid off by said company where you do not fit in. Other times, it is something you have to identify and fix on your own either by changing to fit the culture or by moving on to find something that fits your needs more.
A big part of the battle is to know what you need. It is understanding what in terms of culture and fit do you need. Are you looking for a company that is run like a family? Meaning you all go crazy and love/hate eachother minute by minute? Are you looking for a company that is run like the military – meaning everything is controlled and scheduled to the nth degree. Are you looking for something more in between?
Read my books to find out more about culture and fit to be ready for your next step! Let me know what you think about culture and fit? Did you make the right choices for college and career? If yes, how did you know? If not, what can you do to fix it? Happy Hunting!
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When you work, there is a level between culture and reality which encompasses why things happen the way they do. Such as why you were not asked to lead a project. Or why you were passed over for a promotion. I call this phenomenon office politics.
What is office politics? It is the unknown – the reason given for “why?” It is the mix of where culture meets the people who react and live within the culture. This is part of why it is so important to understand the culture of the company that you a) work at b) are interviewing at or c) newly hired to work at too. The way I see it, there is the culture which is communicated through both written words (such as the employee manual which dictates clothing and other rules) and the execution of those rules along with the communication that comes downstream from management to the people. That makes up the culture and leads to the politics.
[Disclaimer: most of my corporate experience was at large multinational corporations (MNC) but I did do some time at smaller firms and have been an entrepreneur as well as an employee of college offices, which each run as their own stand alone functioning business but most of my work experience is from large MNCs.]
If you work at a large corporation the corporate office will have a strategy a plan a mission and that gets parsed down and communicated through the levels and layers until it reaches your particular department. It is not unlike a large scale game of telephone. There are communication issues and other ways we translate the news and rules from management. How these things that were communicated are executed on the office level are also vetted through the person in “charge” on that level and thus changed again.
You will find out about this level of interaction only when you work at a company full time. You might be able to find out about office politics when you are interviewing and networking with the company but it really is something you cannot truly immerse yourself in until you work full time at the place. Good ideas for adjusting to office politics are:
How to manage corporate change is never easy. Implementing change anywhere is hard to do but try to implement change in an organization and be prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.
Most people in organizations will resist change and many will fight it openly. Any which way, change is hard to do and I spent most of my career championing change and implementing it.
While I was pursuing my DPS degree at Pace University, I wrote a case study about implementing a big change at a large multi-national firm -that of a Project Management Office. I think about going back to finish my doctorate all of the time - but I have yet to figure out how to logistically do so... As I work on building my own business and my partnership with Wagner College Office of Lifelong Learning, getting certified to be a Math 7-9 teacher in NYS, being an Adjunct and running my household I realize there is only so many hours in a day.
I thought it would be nice to share this case study I wrote about managing corporate change at a large multi-national firm for your reading pleasure or to help you fall asleep when you have insomnia... Whatever works. Happy Hunting!
Whether it's your first day at your first job or your first day at your tenth job there are basic rules to that can help you get along with (most) coworkers. There are cases, though, where nothing you can do can help you build a relationship with coworkers and I will address those (usually) outlier situations in a future post. If you have advice or anecdotes about working in impossible coworker situation, let me know in the comments or via email, text or chat.
My quick prof rules are below:
1) Be Professional
Arrive to the office on time or early but not too early maybe a good rule of thumb is no more than 30minutes early. Be ready for the day - until you get acclimated do not assume everyone eats breakfast at their desk - maybe there is a meeting every morning where eating is not done so wait and see how things go and then follow the herd accordingly. You do not want to be the only person eating at their desk each morning. When it comes time to have assignments, do them on time and well. If you are having trouble, try to solve it on your own first but if needed, ask for help. Try not to have to ask for help every time but it is better to have help than to make too many mistakes.
2) Be Private (but not too private)
Do not talk too much about your personal life - if you are young or just cooler than me, you might be tempted to mention you are hung over from the weekend - try not to be hung over from the weekend on your first day or any day for that matter and if you are do not bring attention to it. If you have a personal life, keep it that way. Do not let it encroach on your work place from day one but at some point, you will find that it helps to have conversational tidbits about you to make you seem human and to potentially find some friends at your work place.
3) Know the difference between work friends and work colleagues
The bulk of your fellow employees will probably fall into the colleague category - someone who you share work with but not private thoughts with. Know the difference between these two types. You can find friends at work - I have been blessed with some who continue to be friends today - but it is not everyone. Some people need to be kept at arms length for various reasons - jealousies, weird feelings, etc.
4) Be polite
While being professional should cover this it just includes being respectful of everyone - if someone is not respectful to you, do your best to not react. Always try to "let it roll off your back" - I think the saying is like a duck lets water roll off their back. If someone is mean or nasty to you, chances are they are like that to everyone. That does not make it right but it usually means karma will take care of that person and they will not be at the company for long. Do your best work and try to remember that bringing your emotions into the work force can be too tricky and can make you look worse than the people who are the ones who are the problem.
5) Beware the office romance
Seriously, run away from this. Of course, I guess, sometimes you find your soulmate at work but it can be so tricky and tough. Most companies now will make you sign a romance agreement if you find love on the job and it includes rules and usually an instant transfer if you and your beloved are in the same department.
What do you think of my rules to get along with your coworkers? Do you agree/disagree? What would you add or change? Happy Hunting!
Everyone wants to be creative and find new ways to get more sales or to get things done quicker or cheaper... Or not? Sometimes, being creative is tough because it requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. Everyone has always done this X thing at your company this Y way - who are you to suggest a new way to do it? Well, you are the one to suggest a new way to do something and your employer, if they are smart, will want to hear and potentially implement your ideas...
So how does a company encourage this type of thinking? One way can be by encouraging episodic memory. Time.com has the theory in place with an article about Harvard University psychology Ph.D candidate Kevin Madore's study that shows detailed memory making can help a person be a more creative problem solver.
I would assume this could be something addressed in a training program. Maybe a small roll out of training maybe one afternoon to mimic the study results - having your employees take note of every detail in a meeting such as where people are sitting, hair color, etc and then seeing if this helps unlock their creativity in problem solving. I am a detail-orientated person and my whole career (and my education, too for that matter) was helped by my extensive note-taking and attention to detail. Especially as a Project Manager, having the documentation was a massive help in getting projects done on time and (usually) under budget.
The Mashable article by Andre Durand talks more about the actuality of increasing innovation - from always listening to the "crazy ideas" and to also be comfortable with failure to help increase the innovation of your company. An interesting item is about the parable of the Stone Soup - so to always keep your ideas as open-ended to keep working on it with other people and never consider something "cooked", I guess, and also to always have conversations around "What If".
What do you think about these ideas around increasing innovation and helping encourage creative problem solving? Can you see them working at your company? If yes, why? If no, why not? Happy Hunting.
Time.com Creative Problem Solving
Mashable 4 Tips to Foster Company Culture of Innovation
A lot of my posts have been talking about how important it is that you are a cultural fit in the mind of the hiring party - that they can picture you at a cubicle or office at their company - but it is just as important for YOU to feel comfortable and interested in being surrounded by these people for a bulk of your days as the employee. Most important is, of course, your manager but your co-workers are also part of whether you succeed or fail. These two articles talk about bosses and coworkers .
The use of the term "bad boss" is a relative term - what management style works best for you might be the stuff of nightmares for someone else. You really need to get a feel for the type of person your manager is and the type of management style that works best for you. The article from CareerBuilder gives some great tips like observing how the manager handles other people during your interview and how they treat you - are they asking great questions, are they engaged. Also, do not be afraid to interview them as best you can - ask questions that will give you insight into how they would handle you as an employee. There is only so much you can really determine during the interview process so one piece of advice I would add is do not forget to trust your gut - make your decisions rationally but with the understanding that if your gut is saying something is off, maybe it is.
Fortune has a really great write up from Kim Getty, President of Deutsch LA about what they look for in employees and you can use these tips when considering what you want in your coworkers. Deutsch LA wants people who are entrepreneurial and can think outside the box and with that, the confidence to keep coming up with new ideas even if not all of them are successful. Also they look for doers - someone who is not just waiting for instructions but can move and make things happen on their. The ability to be problem solvers and know more than their area of expertise is also a wanted trait. The best advice to be applicable to YOUR next step decision is the Plane Ride Test - can you picture yourself sitting next to this person for a long plane ride?
So as the companies you meet with are assessing your fit with the colleagues and culture, it is important for you to be doing the same. Using some pieces of advice from the above two articles can help you make your best next step. What do you think of the advice? Is it applicable to you as an interviewee? What if you are a hiring manager, does it apply to you, too? Happy Hunting!
Career Builder Tips for Spotting a Bad Boss In An Interview
Fortune 4 Qualities of Great Co-Workers
Great articles from Entrepreneur and Inc.com, links below. Entrepreneur talks about entering any interview as an equal partnership of business ideas and not as being lucky for the interview or that they are lucky to interview you.
A key quote from the article is, "Per the Carnegie Institute of Technology, 85% of the decision to hire you is based on your personal traits. Only 15% of the decision is based on your skills, experience or proof that what you do is better than other people who are competing for the position." This ties back into my previous blog post , link below, that your ability to present yourself well in the interview is super important - like eye contact and smiling at the interview.
So being confident is important and realizing that you are selling yourself to the company - more so than your abilities and skills, it comes down to culture. Can the hiring manager and the other employees see you as "fitting in" at a cubicle or office with them? I will have more to say and share about culture in the next few blog posts, so keep an eye out for those insights based on some research I had done for my DPS program.
Also, I wanted to include what Inc.com says about assessing Carly Fiorina's recent POTUS debate and compares it to actual interview steps and tips, including a great performance based interview template from LinkedIn (link below). Also important is knowing how to discuss your accomplishments and prepare, prepare and prepare.
Check out the links below and let me know in the comments what you think about the tips mentioned above. Happy Hunting!
The Most Successful Job Interview Tactic
4 Awesome Interview Tips From Carly Fiorina
Performance Based Interview
Lisa Vento Nielsen