I fully believe that everyone should get to work in an environment that is positive and fulfilling, and allows them to grow both professionally and personally. But I also know there are many people who are still searching for the job that’s the right fit, or feel stuck in a job due to money or family obligations. I’m here to reassure you that there are organizations out there that are the right fit for you, and you deserve to find them.
Identifying whether your current workplace is, or is not, the right fit for you is directly related to determining your own core values. Core values are those deeply held beliefs that form the foundation for the way we see the world. They are deeper than personality style or preferences. For example, I’m a person who can be extroverted and spontaneous. But at the end of the day, practicality, responsibility, and family are driving core values of mine, along with a deep value of learning and growth. Those are the things that will always ground me.
What are your core values?
Think about what fuels your energy and guides you. When you have a free day, how do you choose to spend your time? Your money? There are several ways of pinpointing your own core values. For example, ask yourself questions like:
- When you think about how you make decisions, what is it that you always come back to?
- What gets you up in the morning, and what keeps you up at night?
- Think about a time that you’ve been especially happy or proud of yourself. What was going on there?
- Conversely, think about a time that you were really stirred up by a situation or cause. What caused that emotion?
What are your organization’s values?
You can take similar steps to determine the values of an organization. In Values Based Organizations, the values are both stated and practiced by leadership. But unfortunately, in some organizations, those stated values are not always practiced. And other organizations have yet to take the steps to identify their values.
I recommend always keeping your antenna up to discern what is truly valued in an organization. Pay attention to the way things work within the organization, not just what is said. Ask yourself questions like:
- How are decisions made?
- What behaviors are rewarded? What behaviors are seen as unacceptable?
- What makes this organization unique?
- What makes this organization a great place to work?
Assessing the fit
When it comes to determining whether your work environment is a fit for you, it really depends on your core values and tolerances. If you’re unsure, a good place to start is considering your get to do’s and your have to do’s. In thinking about your role, how often to you feel excited or inspired by the work that you are doing, the organization you are working for, and the people you are working with? Those are the get to do’s. For me, being able to learn new things, and share what I’ve learned with people is a big get to do. Evaluate the balance between those things and the have to do’s, the tasks or work that you could just as well do without. There might not ever be a perfect role or scenario, but hopefully your get to do’s outweigh your have to do’s.
It’s also important to remember that people have different preferences. What can be a bad fit for one person, might be great for somebody else. I know two people that worked for the same person at different companies. One of them would describe that boss as an overbearing tyrant. But for the other person, he was their favorite boss, someone who challenged them to grow.
Similarly, I had a past job where I would say sarcastically, I could sit underneath my desk and nobody would know I was here. Others I worked with loved the feeling of independence. Ultimately, I was able to recognize that the larger issue stemmed from a lack of growth and learning. I knew that my core values weren’t being met, so I chose to take a leap into the unknown and seek a better fit.
Take the time to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. Recognizing an environment that isn’t a good fit can serve as a catalyst. It can push you to find the next place that allows you to use your gifts and thrive. No one should feel trapped in an unhappy work environment. Because, everyone has the potential to find the right fit by leading with their core values.