When it comes to choosing an employer, the common belief is that nothing matters more than how amazing the company culture and perks are. In fact, many might think, “If I could just work at Google or Amazon or Tesla or Microsoft….then my life would be so perfect.”
Unfortunately, that happens to be one of the biggest lies about work. Once you’ve joined a company that looks great on the surface, you can still end up being miserable because the only factor that determines how happy you’ll be at your new job is your team — the people who manage you, the people you work with, interact with, collaborate with and run into every day.
Having an on-site daycare facility, giving employees 20 percent of their time to pursue their own interests, offering large rewards for referring new hires or building solar panels on the roof are all admirable initiatives — and yet, none of these things are within an employee’s control.
Perks are simply commitments made by others — the executive committee or the board — and while you may think they’re worthy or feel proud that your company is contributing to the world in positive ways, you can’t do anything about them. They’re all off in some other place, far from the day-to-day projects and deadlines, the ongoing actions and interactions (a.k.a. the things you were hires to do).
Within your first few months at a company, you’re bound to be asked by a friend: “What’s it really like to work there?” If you’re going to be completely honest with them, you’re not going to tell them about the solar panels or endless lunch options in the cafeteria. Instead, you’ll get real and explain how work is parceled out, whether managers play favorites, how disputes get resolved and so on.
Before making the decision to join a company, don’t ask about the culture or perks. Do your best to find out if the company knows how to build great teams. Does it place a premium on training, developing and supporting team leaders? Does it place a premium on you being trusted and supported by the people you work with every day? These are the things that determine whether you’ll end up miserable and wanting to quit.
And remember, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the office or work remotely. Teamwork isn’t a location, it’s a feeling.
(This is an adapted excerpt with permission of Harvard Business Review Press from “NINE LIES ABOUT WORK: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World” by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Copyright 2019 One Thing Productions Inc. and Ashley Goodall. All rights reserved.)
Marcus Buckingham is a global researcher and thought leader. He founded The Marcus Buckingham Company in 2006 with a clear mission: to instigate a “strengths revolution.” Marcus is also the co-author of “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World.” Follow him on Twitter.
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