Taking a job without assessing its fit is like marrying someone because they like you. It’s okay to go out on a blind date but getting married is a commitment. Before you walk down the aisle with an organization evaluate your fit with the company on three levels – strategic, political and role.
Are you aligned with the direction the company is going? If you’re looking to work for a family-oriented, small organization, then you are not a fit with a fast-growing organization who wants to become a Fortune 500 company. Conversely, if you value the resources and stability of a large organization then a start-up may not be right for you.
Go to the company website, attend a shareholder meeting, and/or talk to people to understand their key strategy elements:
- Mission – why the company exists. Are you motivated by their mission?
- Vision – where they are going. Can you help the organization on its journey?
- Values – what they believe; how they work together. Are they a match to your personal values?
- Goals – where they will focus. Will your skills and experience help achieve their mission?
- Objectives – desired results. What specific financial and non-financial results are you expected to achieve?
Answering these questions will give you a good sense of your strategic fit with the company.
No, not whether you are a republican, democrat, or independent. Political fit means there is a match between your preferred style of working and how the organization gets things done through their policies, practices, and procedures.
Kathleen Kelley Reardon, Ph.D. describes four types of political organizations in her book, The Secret Handshake. (LINK)
- Minimally Politicized – the atmosphere is amicable, there is a sense of camaraderie, and people treat each other well and don’t resort to underhanded politics to achieve personal goals. If you believe in getting ahead through hard work – this company type may be the best fit for you.
- Moderately Politicized – operates on generally understood, formally sanctioned rules, the culture discourages overt conflict, and may profess a desire for one thing but reward another. If you are a team player that believes that you get ahead by working well with others – then this company type may be the best fit for you.
- Highly Politicized – conflict is frequent, in-groups and out-groups are clearly defined, and you need to know which topics are taboo if you want to survive. If you are an individualist who believes the best way to get ahead is push hard and do what it takes to achieve personal goals – then this company type may be the best fit for you.
- Pathologically Politicized – goals are achieved by going around the formal procedures, people tend to distrust each other, and carrot-and-stick approaches are used to get results. If you like playing political games in a skillful way and have little regard for sanctioned rules – then this company type may be the best fit for you.
You increase both your job satisfaction and opportunities for career advancement if your personal work style and beliefs match the political style of your employer.
A good job meets all your must-have factors and many of your motivating factors. I always ask clients to identify their top five must-have factors – aspects of the job that must be right for you to be happy. Examples include a minimum level of compensation, level of job security, work conditions, or work location.
Next clients identify their top five motivating factors – aspects that make the job truly, deeply satisfying. Examples include challenging work, recognition, opportunities for personal growth, or a mentor.
Role fit is important. It is possible to love and hate your job at the same time if your must-have factors are not met. I know many people that love their day-to-day work but are miserable because it does not pay all the bills – leading to stress and anxiety. Conversely, I know people who feel trapped by a job that pays well but feels like it is sucking the life from their body.
I know people who spend more time researching a new car purchase than evaluating a new job. Think about how much time you will spend at work. It is a major commitment. So before saying yes to a new job or role, spend time assessing the strategic, political and role fit. You’ll thank me for it. 😊