Whether you’re considering an internal move, or enticed by a position elsewhere, once you know you’ve got the right skills and experience, remember that even as you’re “selling” yourself, you’re also buying. As a buyer, here are four things to consider that can make or break your ability to do your best work, and be fulfilled:
1. Buying the Values
Forget the framed dust collectors hanging in the hall that list a company’s “Values.” Instead, look at how the organization actually conducts itself with others. Assess how it does its business / functions in terms of goods and services, their impact on the world, and how it treats (and what it expects from) its customers, employees, communities, and other entities. Given this, how well does it align to your own values? If they don’t mesh, your honeymoon will be short. Too much compromise on this one tends not to be sustainable.
2. Buying the People
Number one reason good executives leave good positions is the relationship with their direct leader / boss. Is he or she someone with whom you have (or are highly likely to have) a tremendous amount of respect and professional “chemistry”? If so, you can do great work together, and if not, survey says it won’t last.
And, beyond your direct leader, it’s the people on your team, your colleagues, clients, and others with whom you’d be interacting day in / day out. Do they have the right qualities, ones you’d find fulfilling to spend a third of your life with in the years ahead?
3. Buying the actual Work
The number two reason good people leave good organizations is “the job isn’t what I thought it would be.” The nature of the work you’d be doing, again, is a key factor in success and fulfillment. How confident are you the job itself is what it says it is? What’s NOT being said about it, that may nevertheless be detectable by your instincts, and or the non-verbals of those you’ve met? Is there a clear job description that does a good “job” of defining success / measuring outcomes? Probe, probe, probe on the nature of the job.
4. Buying the Compensation
This is in last place for a reason. Interestingly, and increasingly, the values, people, and work are way ahead of the money in terms of what attracts and holds people to jobs these days. That’s not a note to employers to be cheap, as people still like to be well-compensated, particularly the people you want to hire. That said, the Great Recession helped us understand there’s little more permanence or security. On the plus side, this means executives (and others) are making choices to be fulfilled and do their best work right here / right now. Assuming the compensation is in the right ballpark for you, get the values, people, and work factors right, and the money should NOT make that much of a difference.
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In wrapping up, one added note about how an organization’s stated values can help YOU be a great buyer. The values it feels the need to actually state in public are the things it needs to do the most work on. Why? Because if those values were already ingrained in the company, they'd be so automatic, that people wouldn’t even think of the need to state them. So if you DO see the values list, note them as areas for concern.
Finally, I wish you well in considering the options ahead of you. Choosing a situation that sets you up to do your best work, and be fulfilled, most days, is critically important not just for you, but for our common good.