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Top-Shelf Tip No. 114:

"Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first."

Simon Sinek

10 Signs Of A Healthy Company, Part 2

A few years ago, I began the interview process with a mid-sized company. I had been referred by a friend for a senior marketing role.

The first interview was with the HR generalist. It was the typical "screener" interview—making sure that I was what was reflected on my resume. The second interview was with the hiring manager herself. She was dynamic and funny, and the job seemed like a great challenge. The only thing that struck me as odd was that she was based in New York, while the rest of the organization was in Dallas. I did not consider that a red flag at the time—but I noted it.

The third interview was with the manager's senior counterpart—an intense guy who described his needs for the job as very different from what the hiring manager had told me. Now that was a red flag.

My fourth interview was back with the hiring manager and one of her subordinates. This time, when she described the job, the responsibilities had changed as well as the job title. I became very concerned. When I questioned her about the changes, she indicated there were "a lot of moving parts" and I should not worry about job title.

At my fifth and final interview, the HR director extended a job offer that was a lateral move in terms of salary and a step down in title. I declined the offer, and was disappointed that I met with the organization five times and then came away without the job I had expected.

If you are looking to make a job change, how can you determine a healthy organization from a dysfunctional one without investing so much time? Yesterday, Promotional Consultant Today shared five key signs of healthy companies from a checklist compiled by Liz Ryan, a Fortune 500 senior vice president of human resources. Today, we're sharing five more from her list.

1. Honesty and transparency. In a great organization, interviewers and other people you meet will talk to you like a new friend. They're honest about the hard parts of the job and the irritating things that can happen in a normal workday. They don't get offended when you ask a question like, "What's the worst part of the job?" or "What is your manager like?"

2. Clear understanding of mission, vision and values. In a well-run company, everybody you meet understands what the company does and why. They understand the mission, and they see their own part in it. There's no secrecy around the company's recent and upcoming moves, and people are not worried about their job security. If they decide to move somewhere else, their boss won't have any hard feelings toward them. In short, everybody is treated like an adult—including you.

3. You are treated with respect throughout the interview and hiring process, whether you get the job or not.

4. Simple and clear processes. In a healthy organization, the employee handbook is simple and easy to understand. They ask employees to set goals individually and collectively, and employees are consistent about reaching them. There are few bureaucratic processes to slow down the operation. Everybody throughout the organization wants the same thing: to grow and thrive. They all follow the same mission.

5. People in the organization can say what they want without fear of retribution . This is an important point you will not find on the company's website or in its annual report. In a healthy organization, there is debate. Managers don't get upset because someone challenges them. They know the best ideas come from the most unlikely sources. Nobody's opinion is worthless, and nobody is told to stop talking because the manager has already made the decision.

The level of fear versus trust in an organization is not only the most important thing for you to know as a prospective team member, but also a predictor of the organization's success or failure. You cannot afford to overlook the signals. If it doesn't feel right, go with your instinct.

Choose your next job based on the health of the organization, and you will never regret your decision.

Source: A former opera singer, Liz Ryan served as senior vice president of human resources for a Fortune 500 company. She started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997 and now writes for LinkedIn and Forbes.com. She also leads the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Her book,Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to Get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve is available on Amazon.com.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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