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Sunday, May 20, 2012

What great organizations do differently, and how you can get a position



Great organizations are created by bright, insightful visionaries like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Being a visionary is part of the battle, it takes great leadership to carry out that vision. Great leaders set borders for their employees and trust their employees will succeed within those parameters; competent employees need autonomy. They follow Douglas McGregor's Theory Y, the belief that employees are intelligent, productive, and responsible within the appropriate work environments and support systems. As many Americans find themselves seriously disliking and loathing the workplace, it is astonishing that there exists a large number of companies that are focused on employee satisfaction.

The chart featured above is based on Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. As human beings, we all have basic needs: clothing, food, shelter, social connections, etc. The bottom three areas, love/belonging, safety, and physiological, are the basic needs we all seek as living organisms. After those basic needs are met, we seek esteem and self-actualization (reaching the apex of being truly comfortable in one's own skin). Regardless of where you currently are on this spectrum, we all strive to find work we love. When a person is truly in love with the work he or she may do, it influences all factors of life including family, spirituality, creativity, health, etc.

Subsequently, great organizations recognize that employees possess individual goals. These organizations possess organizational goals. Rather than ignoring their employee wants, desires, and ambitions, successful companies seek in-depth information about their employees and design a work environment and company culture that matches those goals and desires (think Zappos.com). For example, Publix Super Markets offer on-site childcare for only $130 per month. For parents who are seeking safe, educational, trustworthy, and reasonably-priced childcare, this is a major perk for employees. This reduces stress for single parents and parents in general. Reduced stress leads to more creativity and productivity (do not be stressed by a job).

Many companies state that their respective companies advocate for employee work-life balance; however, few companies actually implement this practice. Not all organizations practice what they preach. Worldwide pet-testing laboratory, Idexx, based in Maine with labs all over the globe, is one such company. An employee of the company in 2012 desired to reduce his work schedule to four days a week so he could balance working third-shift with his graduate studies and family time. Despite featuring this option within the employee handbook, the company has barely reacted to his request for less time at work. Additionally, instead of creating a pay structure based on results, the company forces employees to stay until the very last minute of their work schedule even if the actual work is done. They supplement the additional time by giving the employees additional assignments outside of their job descriptions ("busy work").

Great companies reward their employees for their hard work. They create positive work environments with flexible scheduling, because they understand that happier employees are more productive and creative.

So if you are interested in working for a company that allows you to work from home, provides inexpensive on-site childcare, pays 100 percent of your health insurance, practices work-life balance, pays for sabbaticals, or offers unusual perks, here is what you should do:


  • Soul-search: What is it that you love to do? What were your dreams as a child? If money was not a factor, what would you do for free as much as you could? What is your personality? Do you like to work with people or are you a loner? Do you have high technical skills? Do you speak well? Do you enjoy writing? What are the recurring themes in your life? Going through this process myself, I realized that I enjoy working alone with opportunities for collaboration. I love writing, and would do it every single day if I could. I would love to publish books, and travel to meet new fans, and to be able to speak to audiences about my passion and knowledge. What is it that you truly love to do? Note: College career centers and university psychology departments are great resources to utilize psychological profiles and assessments to discovering the type of person you are and the type of work you are meant to be doing based on your unique talents, values, and traits. 
  • Identify three strong areas of competency: Author Dan Miller of 48 Days to Work You Love advocates that you can truly find work you love if you identify the three strongest areas of competency that you have and that you want to continue doing moving forward. This is a way of being authentic to yourself. Those areas could include the following: accounting, cash-handling, customer service, typing, brainstorming, writing, public speaking, interior designing, sewing, cooking, shopping, data entry, etc. My three areas of competency are writing, management and teaching. I am strongly interested in finding or creating opportunities to earn a living through my writing, leadership (management), and ability to explain complex information (teaching). 
  • Revise your resume: Your new resume should clearly identify your three strongest areas of competency preferrably in a functional method. This will be key if you are a potential career changer as you desperately seek work that you will love. 
  • Identify 30 to 40 target companies: You need to match your personality, goals, competencies, values, and desired lifestyle to a litany of companies that could benefit from your skill set and interests. For example, on my list of target companies, I listed CNN, GQ Magazine, Mattel, The New York Times and Coca Cola. I enjoy the products of these companies. I know that each respective company values creativity and employs writers and leaders. I presume that my skill set would be beneficial to each company, and that each company could offer me the lifestyle I want through an alliance. For example, I desire a lifestyle of comfort, balance, and family, thus I want to work for an organization that values work-life balance. Through further research, I would discover if any one of these companies do in fact value families and relaxation. So to truly create a strong, viable list of target companies, you will need to utilize business directories, surveys, and the Better Business Bureau to research the hidden variables of these corporations. I utilize CNN Money's 100 Best Companies to Work list. Note: Be aware that you may find better opportunities by creating self-employment or business ventures. 
  • Make your interest known: Using Dan Miller's 48 Days to the Work You Love process, begin researching the hiring managers information so you can send an introductory letter displaying your interest, then follow that up with a resume and cover letter within four days of sending the introductory letter. After sending the resume and cover letter, you will want to make telephone contact with the hiring person to schedule an interview. During the interview, sell yourself, smile, be confident, show enthusiasm and know as much about the company as possible through your research. Let the hiring manager(s) know that you are a competent professional who knows his or her strengths and can explain how those strengths will improve the company and help it reach its goals. Remember the interview is a two-way process. If you detect that the company or job is not a good fit, be honest with the interviewer. You do not want to waste your time or theirs. 
  • Marketing principles: You want the hiring manager(s) to recognize your name as companies want consumers to recognize their brand. You are reaching out for a position that is not advertised. This drastically reduces the competition you will face. Only 12 percent of jobs available are actually advertised. Thus, there is an abundance of opportunities available to those with tight connections and networks. The best opportunities are not viewed on popular job search sites Monster, Indeed, Snagajob, or Careerbuilder. You can bypass that by being aggressive, professional, competent, and organized. Follow up any interview, which, you still have interest in joining by sending a thank-you letter and continuing contact until a decision has been made. Lastly, be open to future opportunities even if you were not hired for the discussed position. First impressions typically lead to future opportunities. 
As a scholar, you worked hard to earn decent grades and to reach the elusive "American Dream." As technology continues to increase and the global economy continues to stagger, excellent jobs are difficult to find (but you want more than a job, you are fulfilling your calling, your vocation). By identifying your true calling, listening to God, revisiting your childhood dreams, and establishing the type of lifestyle you wish to have, you are being authentic to yourself. Only then can you begin finding or creating work that you love. It saddens me to see millions of Americans hate their jobs when they spend so much time at work. Hating your job can lead to enhanced stress, poor health, mental breakdowns, and bad habits like smoking or over-eating. Loving your job increases your enjoyment and happiness in life, holistically. By knowing who you are as a person, you will reject anything that does not match you. Stop looking at jobs advertised online, and start soul-searching, extract those skills you possess, and advertise those skills to companies that will value your predetermined lifestyle. This type of thinking is abstract, unorthodox. True success involves more than money, but you can reach financial success too if you follow this process. You have nothing to lose, so let the soul searching begin.

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