It was a freezing cold weekday night and I found myself at dinner with about a dozen incredible people. As I looked around the table, I really couldn’t comprehend that they all worked in one place; and that I was about to start a journey working with them. Normally I might be in a bad mood about having to commute home over an hour in the crazy northeast tundra-like temperatures of recent, but in this case nothing was going to dampen the moment.
If you haven’t ever considered the impact of your immediate work environment on your own happiness, it’s just time to start (wait, you haven’t noticed all the happiness quotes in your face every 2 seconds?). When you change careers you never know who your new work family will be. Will I like them? Will they be fun? Will I want to grab cocktails with them after work?
I can’t even really complain about my previous work crew. For ten years I felt like I lived an extended version of Beverly Hills 90210. Working in education, you develop close connections with people over time. I danced at weddings, celebrated babies being born, and mourned many losses in that 10 years. I had given up on thinking I could find that type of community in a work environment again. My students also brought me great joy, joy that I never took for granted every single day.
After studying organizational culture in depth through traditional education (No matter what the next best internet marketer say, it’s still super valuable to have a database other than your own life), I realized the many underlying forces that impact culture: the size of organization, leadership, the context of the work; the list goes on. As an open, feeling, and intuitive person, I am greatly impacted by the people around me.
As I sat at the afore mentioned dinner, I realized something that connected each person: They were all truly in LOVE; with life, a partner, their family, a cause, their work and more. There was a LOVE and passion for something clearly uniquely radiating from everyone. These are people that work their butts off everyday and are completely willing to help out a newbie with 362 questions.
So my anxious, excited, worried, hopeful job searchers, you too are the interviewer. You must ask yourself what kind of organizational culture suits you. I know I would probably die a slow death at a large corporation. That is not to say it wouldn’t work for someone else. Here are some questions to consider when you are job seeking:
- How many people would you be directly working with? Sizes of teams can greatly impact culture. Larger teams have the potential to break off into factions or cliques. This is just normal group psychology, but it happens. Do you work better in small groups? Why or why not?
- How many people will you be directly reporting to, if at all? What is the leadership structure? Are you a person that likes a lot of direction and handholding or are you cool with eating ambiguity for breakfast?
- What is the social culture like? Are there happy hours, new hire events, or team volunteer opportunities?
- Exercise: You are about to become a novice researcher!
- Make a list of all the places you’ve ever worked.
- Say what worked for you about the culture and why, and what didn’t work about the culture and why.
- From what you discover, create a few sentences that describe the type of organizational culture that might work from you. Consider size, organization type, number of employees, leadership style of a boss, and whatever else you notice after reflecting on your past experiences.
Lastly, go out and create it. Talk about it. Ask about it. It can’t get to you if it’s a secret. I am not a woman who believes that everything happens through manifestation. I do believe that sound career changes happen where risk and reality tango. You’ve got to be able to see something in your mind’s eye. How else will you know you found something right if you can’t see a tiny glimpse of it now? Go forth and be hired.