While the jury is still out on whether marriages are really made in heaven, as far as corporate marriages go, the moot question is whether has one has really tied the knot or tied oneself up in knots! In this context, the quest to find the right company is the one which comes closest to the eternal quest for many folks in the corporate world today, given the sheer number of companies one works for over one’s career span, answering that most innocuous of questions, “Why did you leave your last company and why do you want to work for us?” several times over. Here’s a selection of variables that invariably go into this decision-making process, based on my own experience and those of many others.

career_management_company_fitAlignment with values – How often have we heard about executives not being able to make the cut “culturally”? As we all know, every firm has a life of its own, and the ability to blend into the landscape is critical. A friend of mine who was highly successful in a set-up where people were encouraged to speak their mind and drive constructive conflict found himself in a sticky spot when he moved to a firm where the value system placed a huge emphasis on carrying people along with you, to the point of exclusion of debate on genuine disagreements. Needless to add, he moved on very quickly.

Hotel California – As one moves through the senior-most levels in an organization, one finds oneself very often in a situation wherein there is no pressure to hit the exit door but the glass ceiling creates a velvet carpet situation wherein one is neither moving out nor growing. The latent complacency which this creates leads to lose-lose for both the organization and the individual. I know of several executives who had to be kicked upstairs into non-executive roles in such situations. With due respect to the Eagles, one wouldn’t want to check-in only to find that one is unable to leave.

Wavelength – If you spend most of your days in the office, it is but natural that you spend most of your time with your colleagues. The connection with colleagues is a real deal-breaker. A friend of mine took up a role in an organization wherein she couldn’t operate on the same wavelength with her colleagues. As a result, she began spending most of her time outside the office (with distributors, customers et al.) resulting in a dip in visibility and bonding at office. Consequently, when a downturn happened, she was amongst the first ones to lose her position, since that bulwark of human interactions – relationships – was missing.

Creative destruction – As we see all around us, the world is re-inventing itself every day. Are you in a set-up that refuses to see reality and is on a moribund journey or in a forward-looking entity where there is no sacred cow? An excellent case in point is a firm where performance appraisals are not based on performance but on how much one has changed one’s job over the year.

Treatment of customers – A seemingly obvious one, yet so highly taken for granted by many firms. It is a very simple equation – customers pay the firms’ salary. If they are unhappy, they go elsewhere. The best example I have seen is an organization chart which shows the CEO reporting to the customer. That firm only had one complaint in three years!

The list can go on. The above five fulcrums are by no means exhaustive but constitute a distillation of the factors which occupy our mind the most – am I growing? Am I able to relate to the people around me? Is my firm cognizant of the ever-changing world around us? Am I just comfortable with the culture around me? Do we treat our customers with respect? If “yes” is the answer to three or more questions, you have found your holy grail. Else, the quest continues.


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