The inside job
Switching jobs is a tedious task. Unless you are a serial job-hopper who quits at the drop of a hat (and blotches the career in the long run), you want every move to lead to a constructive end.
While a fatter pay cheque and higher designation may hog the maximum consideration, many ignore a vital aspect the office culture. Considering you will be spending almost one-third of the better part of your day with a certain set of people, this cultural fit is crucial.
“Make a note of the top management. Are they all men? Are they all family members (in case it is a family-run business? Are they all of a certain age?” says Pallavi Jha, Chairperson, Dale Carnegie Training. This will help you identify the glass ceiling. A prototype of the senior management indicates the factors that are accepted, appreciated and encouraged in that culture. Do you have those qualities? Are you comfortable with them? If not, the move may not be the right one for you.
“Every age group has a certain mindset, comes with different levels of expertise and skills. Take note of the age group of your colleagues and your boss and also whether you will be able to learn and work with them,” says Jha. For instance, a 20-something may not be comfortable working in a team where everyone is 30-plus and vice-versa.
What’s your say?
Speak to a few employees and make note of the decision-making process of the organisation. Do the bosses encourage delegation? Or is it a dictatorship where one person makes the decision and the others blindly follow it? Someone who loves to experiment with different styles may not be comfortable with a dictator who refuses to encourage out-of-the-box ideas. “There are certain working styles that the culture encourages.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that yours (if different) will be passed off as an exception,” adds Jha.
Can you flex it?
Are you someone who appreciates a set routine and expects the same out of your teammates? Or someone who welcomes flexible work hours, a work-from-home routine and the option of choosing the assignments you want? Any discrepancy here will create friction rather quickly. “Also, one must try and find out to what extent the culture encourages participation with other departments,” says Jha. This factor is vital if one intends to learn skills other than his/her own.
Nurture me well
“One must know to what extent (and in what ways) the organisation invests in its employees’ development. Do they conduct regular training sessions? Is the employee given regular feedback about his/her performance?” asks Jha. For instance, if the company regularly features in the ‘Best Employer’ category across different assessment agencies, it does say something about the company’s commitment to its employees.
This is a category where even small things matter. It’s not unusual for woman interviewees to judge the culture depending on how clean the office toilet is.
Web cast wide
“Scourge the Internet and see how the company is represented across the media. That would tell you a lot about its practices,” adds Jha. For instance, is the company regularly in news for the wrong reasons? If yes, what has it done for damage control?
The exercise will help you understand the management’s attitude. Think about this. If the company doesn’t care about its image outside office, will it really care about its employees perceptions?
“Make sure you go through the company’s website and check the kind of information they provide,” recommends Jha. It will show the company’s level of transparency and attention to detail. Moreover, you will also know more about their work policies and be able to assess if they match your own.
Visit the company office a few times and take notes about its environment. “How is the seating arrangement? Is it too compartmentalised? Split into cubicles? Are people chatting with each other? Are they okay shouting across the room? Or is there a deathly silence with people buried in their computer screens? Do you see them sharing lunch?” adds Jha.
It is important to remember that there are no right or wrong answers. There are different work environments and you need to choose which one is best for you.
• While a fatter pay cheque and higher designation may hog the maximum consideration, many ignore a vital aspect the office culture
In the movie Rocket Singh — Salesman of the Year, Ranbir Kapoor’s character had a tough time adjusting to the work ethics of the organisation