Q: I recently left a company after three weeks. I interviewed with the two top people simultaneously — one was the business owner and the other a top manager. The owner was friendly and professional. The manager was stiff and oddly quiet. I didn't know what was wrong with her, but decided I didn't care because I thought I would like the work.
From day one, employee took me to the side and told me what a strange place it was. Each privately warned about the owner being an extreme control freak with no sense of reality. Suddenly, their warnings explained why the manager was oddly quiet. When the owner wasn't in, they all complained nonstop about her and warned me on what not to do. When they heard or saw her coming, they shut up immediately.
I've always worked for positive professionals. On seeing how this affected every employee, I couldn't be silent. None could give good reasons for staying; one even said she didn't need to work, so her staying and complaining made no sense to me. One said she never looked for another job because think she didn't think she would find one.
The owner has no idea how she affects her employees. I think all should be treated with respect, but she made it clear she did not value her employees. I thought of telling her, but since these people were longtime victims, I didn't want to make it worse for them.
A: "The most successful people are the most self-aware people," says Merrick Rosenberg, leading authority on DiSC personality styles assessment and author of "The Chameleon." "Self-aware leaders consider what their people want and they work to create an environment that allows others to thrive, as opposed to an environment in which only they themselves can succeed."
Rosenberg has worked with more than half of the Fortune 100 companies that now use his personality styles model of DiSC, with a twist. Since the DiSC personality types were hard for clients to remember, Rosenberg matched the styles to four types of birds — Eagles, Parrots, Doves and Owls. Each bird embodies a specific set of behaviors and is easy to remember.
Eagles are direct, bottom-line, results-oriented risk takers. The Eagle workplace intensely focuses on results. Decisions are made quickly, though they may not be completely thought out. Communication is candid and direct.
Parrots are enthusiastic, motivational, optimistic and social. The Parrot environment is marked by its energy and focus on building morale. This culture is likely to value risk-taking and innovation.
Doves are harmonious, loyal and patient listeners. The Dove culture values harmony and trust above everything. The strong desire for stability may lead to minimal change, and candor and conflict may be squelched in the name of teamwork.
Owls are conscientious, detail-oriented, logical, questioning and systematic. The Owl environment focuses on quality, and the workplace is likely to be guided by strict processes and systems that people rigidly follow.
Workplace environments are set by upper management's style, and typically, the people who stay and develop careers there feel in tune with that style, no matter how miserable it may be for others. When people fit into a culture, they feel high levels of engagement. When people do not, they emotionally check out by losing their passion to contribute at their highest level. This lack of cultural fit can cause people to quit and leave the organization, while others symbolically quit, but stay in the job. The latter is far more toxic to the individual, since that person is sacrificing who he or she is.
The challenge to ensure cultural fit begins before a person is hired. Managers must be trained how to ask interview questions to determine how and whether a person will be a good fit. "Unfortunately," says Rosenberg, "most companies hire for skill, not cultural fit." Rosenberg asks managers which creates a greater issue — the lack of employees' skills or the drama created by how they work together. Managers emphatically report that drama is the greater issue. When companies clearly define their culture and hire people who embody it, they will create a productive and satisfied workforce. When you feel like a misfit at a company, get out before its toxicity cripples your ability to shine with confidence in a more appropriate environment.
Email your questions to workplace expert Lindsey Novak at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @TheLindseyNovak and Facebook at Lindsey.Novak.12. To find out more about Lindsey Novak, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at www.creators.com.