Currently, there’s a great deal of turmoil in the workforce. There are 1.7 open jobs for every unemployed worker (July). There are major questions between employers and employees that need to be answered: Questions of performance expectations, work locations, management styles, time management, compensation and standards to be maintained.
The gap between employers and employees revolves around two very different cultural norms: Should the culture focus on competence, with the main emphasis on organization and individual performance, or should the culture focus on a work-life equilibrium, with the emphasis on a balance between work and personal time? Can employers and employees work out some kind of compromise in having both cultures work at the same time? My experience says it’s very unusual, and when it happens its transitory given the competitive marketplace and the cycles of the economy.
The last time when companies couldn’t find the talent it needed, jobs were advertised with flexible hours, very casual dress, and oh yes, you could even bring your dog to work with you. During the recession of 2008 to 2010, the reverse was true.
So, when you interview for a job, how can you tell which cultural norm is dominate? You want the best fit to match the organization, position, team and supervisor’s norms, and your own. The best answer depends upon the questions you ask and the things you observe.
- When the business overwhelms the staff, does the organization bring in external support, like part- time employees to help clean up the mess, or does management expect the current staff to work evenings and week-ends for an indeterminate period of time?
- During an interview, does the manager talk about innovation, collaboration, and team-work as an expectation, or the quantity of wok accomplished within a certain period of time?
- Are you expected to respond to a problem 24-7 or help with a solution during the next work day?
- Does the manager communicate with you as issues, information or new plans become available, or are you expected to ask for meetings to catch up? How often does the department meet? Will you meet with your supervisor once a week or once a month?
- Has the person(s) before you had the job for a short period of time or has the job had constant turnover?Did the person before you receive a promotion based on high performance?
- Is compensation dependent on defined objectives with rewards going to high performance, or are all co-workers given a raise within a proscribed percentage with no one rewarded for outstanding work?
- Will you receive adequate training for the current job and development to prepare you for the next career step? Will you have a career plan worked out with you?
- Is the company forcing employees to work out of an office, or does each individual help design the best combination of hybrid/remote/office to best fit the job results?
Every job, supervisor and company are different. Find out cultural expectations ahead of time.
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