If you are in a career transition (as I am currently), tune in to WIFM.
Millennials get a bad rap for always listening to this station. However there are times where you should dial into this frequency.
During the recruitment and interview process employers play their favourite stations. Songs about performance expectations, previous relevant experience, and the favourite country tune: “Tell me about a time when…”. Now is the time for you to play the songs from WIFM: "What's In It For Me?"
As I pursue my next vocation and encounter the recruitment processes of various organizations, the words of Dr. Nancy Adler come to mind:
"Organizations that believe people can change emphasize training and development whereas organizations that believe people are incapable of change emphasize selection systems". (International Dimensions of Organizational Behavior - 2008)
Getting the right answer to “What’s in it for me?” will let you know if you would be:
- Participant in a learning organization, or...
- Employee # __ in an organization that prefers status quo.
If you want to determine whether the organization is one that will develop your skills and potential, below are some things to look for when you are in the process. Make the effort to interview the organization just as they are interviewing you. You could formulate questions to pose when you are in the interview, but it will likely take some personal effort beyond that by speaking to current/former employees and searching their website for any clues pointing to a learning and development culture.
Here are some suggestions for how to assess the answer to “What’s in it for me?”
How does the organization provide for ongoing learning and development?
- Is there a policy, budget, expectation or a track record of time provided for ongoing learning?
- Google their staff. Do they publish? Are they present at industry events as a participant or a presenter?
How does this organization know you are performing well?
Are there performance reviews? If so, how are they conducted? Here are 3 approaches I have encountered and my take on their usefulness:
- The formal review where you are evaluated to a set of objectives laid out 6 or 12 months prior. Be cautious here – in what universe would you want to be evaluated TODAY on an issue that occurred many months ago? Unless their process has some type of ongoing, real-time adjustment to it, it’s a ‘check off the box’ exercise AND does not see you as a person-in-process.
- The regular ‘check-in’. This may be accomplished via regularly scheduled meetings, or the informal drop-in/walkabout approach. These can be very valuable because they are real-time assessments - as long as they are a ‘check-in’ and not a ‘check-up’. The former approach is about how you are performing and discovering what you need to succeed. The latter is simply to know if you are performing to expectation.
- The DIY. Basically there is no performance review. Any advancement in competence or skill development is self-regulated. On the surface this sounds awesome. No accountability! High trust! Freedom! Long leash! However, the dark underbelly here is that when you are left to assess yourself, you tend to over-rate your competencies and lack the objectivity needed to assess areas for personal growth.
What are the signs that this organization has a learning culture?
- What was their last failure and what did they do with it? (ignore, suck it up and move on, meet for a post-mortem to assess learnings…)
- When they meet as teams, what is a typical agenda? Find out if this is an assessment culture or a task-list culture.
You can go to work, or you can go to build & contribute to this world.
Once you have made your choice, then interview the organization to find your fit.
If you have other suggestions that would help a person tune into WIFM, please leave a post below.