I often wonder why I changed Jobs !

I often wonder why I changed jobs. As I get updates on LinkedIn, I wonder why this is such a churning job market at a global level. and this seems to be at all levels right upto the CEO. Most of the companies seem to pay well and provide good working environments(some don’t make the list, that’s for a later post). Something didn’t fit well into the logic of taking care of employees thereby reducing churn.

My own experience of changing jobs reveals that there’s no pattern I could have followed with data I had years back. There have been quite different conditions with each move. As a Gen-Xer, I resolutely tried to stick on based on loyalty factors and my B-school learnings. It seemed that I had outgrown the system and needed to move on.

I must confess it just dawned on me with no prior warning that Culture fit was the key reason. I just didn’t fit with “them” and “they” didn’t synch with me. While all other business aspects remained the same, it just didn’t feel like “it”. To be frank, I get disappointed with all management and HR articles which blame the employee for not upgrading or having an attitude etc while not delving deeper into the Culture issue, resulting in finger pointing in all directions.

Culture as I see it is more of how best the fit is between two pieces of a puzzle so they can fit tight to provide a bigger picture. It need not be symbolic of similar aspirations e.g. A Sales person may still not fit into a Sales only culture. There are many aspects to this, not the least of which is the life stage of an employee or size of an organization. e.g. If you have no kids, you tend to get irritated when colleagues arrive late for meetings. When you do have kids, its too late to feel sorry to have been irritated years back. There are of course a Zillion factors and its wise to know your priority vs the company’s. e.g. if you can’t travel but you are in a Consulting position, its just too obvious whose priority will win in the end.

So feel free to assess the Culture of a company before accepting an offer. Ask them liberal questions, open ended to get a feel. Ask your friends and family if you would fit in that company. Explore multiple ways to get around the Culture question. If your Exec Recruiter is in a hurry (which seems more fast food nowadays), gently nudge them to get you a Culture input. After all its your career. You are here to help your Career , not any one else’s.

Finally if you still get into a company and find you don’t fit into the Culture, figure out a way to Transition soon. You will save a lot of Headache for everyone by being decisive. Believe me you will find an organization where you will flourish. and Maybe you will feel like the title of this post.

Why Culture is a good indicator of Layoffs

Often times Layoffs are announced after the fact. The organization has not met its earnings forecast, no turnaround is seen in growth, revenue is likely to be flat or negative and a whole host of factors. Any well seasoned executive will tell you that none of this happens overnight. There is always a trend line, symptoms which are tell-tale signs, rumblings in the workforce, macroeconomic winds bypassing the company. There are other industry specific cycles as well. Again, none of which falls under the Unknown category. Then, why are there no actions taken? Do Execs become so busy that its often impossible to act? While there are a whole host of answers, all of them are after the fact.

I tend to believe that the most important indicator, in fact a lead indicator by all means tends to be an organizations’ culture and its variables. A Culture provides the norms and settings within which employees work no matter the level or geography. Its the Dark Matter of a Company encoded in its DNA moving beyond written down processes. Culture is the environment which forces an employee to act in ways , which may loosely classified as behavior. For example, it tends to swing the needle between closing a deal and customer satisfaction. One way or the other. Meaning the choice is heavily influenced by the Culture. If the employee tends to decide by himself, results usually affect only the employee. Fear factor sets in over a period of time. Someone who tends to resist leaves the organization or is forced to leave. But when such a culture deliberately stands up against Collective Good(which is usually long term), the march is inevitably towards massive layoffs. Often short-term or even medium-term gains tend to create blindspots. These promote a false sense of being resilient and in turn seem to provide a luxury of ignoring huge macro trends whether in technology or in the economy. When the Long term turns short term and the company starts missing earnings consistently, the blood letting is invariably the form of huge layoffs.

I argue for a greater emphasis to be laid on Culture by the Board and the CEO. Start creating management models which will adopt Culture as a important facet.

Management Thinkers should move beyond current thinking and current management tools which are woefully inadequate to address the Culture component. There’s a great gap of understanding which has developed over the past two decades. Thinkers who cross this gap will move to the future.

All Comments are welcome! of course you can email me : nckumar@gmail.com