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Career

63 STASHED IDEAS

When you're interviewing remotely, pay attention to the details available.

As you speak to a hiring manager or other team members, pay attention to how content they seem in their roles. Do they seem excited about bringing somebody new onto the team? Or are they exhausted at the idea of needing to train and onboard?

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@autumn_mm95

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Career

Evaluating company culture

Company culture is a necessary part to consider when evaluating whether a job is a good match for you. The work environment can have a significant impact on your experience and satisfaction in your role.

There are some pointers to help you understand the company's culture before you accept an offer.

Pay attention to the following points during the remote hiring process.

  • Organisation. Is the hiring process disorganised and full of misunderstanding and frustrations, or do they have streamlined systems that show evident respect for your time?
  • Communication: What tools did they use? How did their communication come across to you?
  • Work-life balance: Are you getting emails from a hiring manager in the middle of the night or over the weekend if they are in the same timezone as you? That could be an indicator that their culture doesn't prioritise disconnecting and downtime.

At the end of a job interview, you should have the opportunity to ask questions.

Ask questions about culture qualities you've identified as important to you. Remote-specific questions about company culture include:

  • How does your team maintain strong bonds?
  • How has your company culture changed since working remotely?
  • What is the biggest hurdle you had to overcome when team members started working remotely?
  • What Slack channels are your favourite?

Getting in touch with current and/or former team members can give you valuable knowledge.

  • Consider asking the hiring manager to introduce you to a few employees who can answer your questions about culture.
  • Or use LinkedIn to search for current and former employees. Send them a personalized connection request and ask if they'd be willing to answer a few questions over a quick phone call or email.
  • Search for Twitter phrases like "remote culture at [Company]", "working at [Company]," or "working remotely for [Company]."

When searching for your next position, a list of must-haves like pay and benefits should also include values you want your company to prioritize.

Perhaps an adequate work-life balance is vital if you are a remote worker. Or maybe you're looking for a highly collaborative environment. Choose the three top-most non-negotiable traits and use that on trying to decipher cultural clues.

  • Website: Look for the company's "about" and "careers" pages, where you can find information about values, perks, and culture.
  • Blog: The company may have published a behind-the-scenes look at how they transitioned to remote work or the different social initiatives their team members are part of.
  • Social Media: See if they are responding to customer service inquiries promptly and respectfully.
  • Employee reviews: Search for keywords like 'remote' or 'values'.
Your values will affect your company culture

A company’s Vision and Mission define where your company is going. Values define how you get there - for example, "openness."

Defining your values becomes the foundation for your company culture, directing the decisions you make, and the people you hire.

Instead of developing top-down policies to manage performance, a single investment in carefully defining core values creates a platform for employees to make decisions more efficiently and autonomously.

A company that values openness empower engineers to make decisions and discuss with their lead only. If a company decide that they fundamentally value secrecy, engineers know not to waste energy trying to open-source code. Undefined values mean these questions need to be constantly reevaluated.

Values underpin your brand and public identity, impacting business partnerships, fundraising, and guiding your marketing and communications.

Written down values become a touchstone that every employee can speak to with less top-down oversight while empowering them to communicate with external parties more freely and authentically.

When a company is small, the high degree of interaction between team members allows for efficient decisions without having values defined. But as a company starts to grow, communication and alignment around decision-making and hiring become increasingly challenging. Delegating responsibility becomes more difficult because you may lack the confidence that your employees will do things right.

Without common principles guiding decision making, a natural consequence is to implement top-down policies. The well-intentioned policies make it harder to attract and retain top talent that thrives on freedom and responsibility. In turn, it leads to lower performance and stricter top-down control.

Startups often discuss the concept of "culture fit" when deciding who to hire. They will look beyond someone's individual performance and consider their impact on the rest of the team.

But, if the culture fit is undefined, at best it will lead to inconsistent hiring decisions, and at worst, "culture fit" may become a cover for unconscious biases to affect decision making. Without guidance, individuals may interpret "culture fit" as someone similar to them, leading to a less diverse team.

The first generation of ballpoint pens cost around 55 shillings (£82.50/$107.50 in 2020 prices). It was in the same style as fountain pens. They were made of metal and intended to be refilled with ink. But with so many companies selling it, the market became saturated, buying refills, but not more pens.

Italian-born French industrialist Michel Bich added the catalyst of disposability. He understood the concept of the mass market and created his new company, Societe Bic. His pen only cost a shilling.

The ballpoint pen was the equivalent of today's smartphone. Before the ballpoint pen, writing was a stationary act that had to be done on a certain kind of desk, with all the other things at hand that allowed you to write.

The ballpoint pen turned writing into something that could happen anywhere. Plastic mass production allowed the pens to become even cheaper, allowing for the transformation of societies.

A replacement for fountain pens

Fountain pens, although stylish, were messy and impractical.

In 1945, Gimbels started to sell a new kind of ink pen, made by the Reynolds International Pen Company. With its quick-dry ink and a rolling ball in the nib, it promised a steady stream of ink with no leaks, smudges, or pooling inkblots.

The pen was not the first ballpoint pen. But its evolution is an example of a game-changing design waiting for the right outside factors to achieve its full potential - in this case, the increase of plastics, mass-production infrastructure, and a brilliant marketeer.

Research found four dominant themes of origin stories among leaders: being, engaging, performing, and accepting.

These themes act as lenses, contributing to how leaders see themselves.

Leaders who use this lens think their leadership started when they were compelled to address an urgent need. They took it upon themselves to change unsatisfactory practices: starting a new organization, volunteering to take on a challenge, liaising between groups in conflict.

The leaders move toward a more facilitative leadership style, and they focus on engaging others and creating collective action.

Leaders who use this lens didn't consider themselves as leaders until they realized others were following them. People came to them for answers, guidance, and support.

This group tends to supporting or serving the needs of others above themselves, often with a low-key attitude.

While both men and women feel like "they have always been leaders" (being lens) and "a leader when others see me as one" (accepting theme), women feel like leaders when they are actively 'doing' (the engaging lens). Men rely more on the performing lens, meaning they become leaders when they achieve a particular role.

Be aware that men and women may gravitate toward different lenses when viewing their leadership roles. Allow them to experiment with different narratives.

There is a strong link between the stories people tell about becoming leaders and their current leadership. Using only one lens could limit your ability.

  • Seeing yourself only as accepting, your identity may be tied to others' perceptions, and you may hold back unless you're "asked" to by others.
  • Your current lens may limit who you seek out as role models or leadership candidates. For example, if you have always been a leader, you may not recognise a leader with a different style.

Experiment with different origin stories. It can increase your adaptability.

Leaders who use this lens always thought of themselves as leaders. They admit to having a natural call to leadership that started in childhood.

In current leadership, people who use this lens often note personal qualities such as confidence, optimism, and natural leadership styles.

Telling our origin story

Stories of origin come in many forms - how we became part of an organization, or how we emerged as a new person after a crisis.

However, we seldom examine what we include and exclude in those accounts and how our choices shape our present reality.

Leaders who use this lens think their leadership rose out of the achievement of a particular position. They often feel protective and responsible for their teams.

They describe themselves as having paternalistic leadership styles, marked by the support, control, and guidance of their teams.

Talent management

After Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2001, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft promoted Tom to General Manager because they wanted to see him grow with the organization. In the corporate world, it is known as talent management.

Research from Ernest O’Boyle and Herman Aguinis shows that high performers have much higher levels of impact than average performers.

A 2016 McKinsey report laid out that only 40% of women and 56% of men desired to become a top executive in a company. It could be because the climb is exhausting since the range of expertise and skills has expanded. It means that today's leaders need to meet an almost impossible set of requirements.

We are requiring today’s leaders to be the best player on the team, the coach, general manager, and CEO. Instead of attracting people who want to lead, we attract the narcissists that are motivated by money, power, and status.

If we want more diversity, we need to change our assumptions that being ranked higher in a company should be the overall target. Being promoted is not always the best way to unlock potential and innovation.

We need more companies that want to let their best performers stay on the field and create paths for the leaders to inspire those stars.

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