Decoding Careers – 2: how to select the right team/company​

In the previous blog post, I promised you to come back on the subject how you can select the right team or the right company to be successful. As I said, even if you are talented and motivated, the key to success is to select the right “wolfpack”.

You may have a list of the top three companies you applied, they are at the surface the same, they innovate, they have great products, great brand, etc. But in which one will you fit or succeed the most? My assumption here is that the innovation and the money are the same. It’s the organization aspect you need to decode. When you apply for a job, either external or in the same company via an internal transfer, there are five aspects to pay attention. Let’s discuss them.

  1. Talk to your future direct leader and his / her boss too. The reason is to ask the same exact questions and see how they will be answered. You want to find out if there is one vision, unity, tranquillity, etc. Additionally, you would like to ask also how the organization has been created and why. This methodology allows you to verify whether the team works on commonly shared goals or not. Many organizations work today on conflicting goals, and that is a base for politics and failures. Another point to check how the feedback system works. Unfortunately, the generation of managers in the fifties has invented the term “training on the job“. They have liked to throw people to jobs they were not ready for. Especially lately you see talents getting burned simply because more expert people don’t have time to or they ignore to teach a job or a skill to younger people. Teams that invest time to help educate co-workers on a skill can replicate and scale success giving quality on the results. More mentors less bosses.
  2. Get a tour of the department while people are working. This sounds like a weird point, but it is a crucial one: during these years I got lucky to have developed a 6th sense where I can read a lot by just looking around: almost like the Google glasses, but then given by mother nature. When you walk around, you should check, aside from the equipment, etc., the people’s body language, how people talk and work or are sitting in meetings, etc. Is there focus or is there stress? is it pretty busy but with a good spirit or are people walking or talking around without a goal? What are the faces of people saying, like “what am I doing here today?” or “let’s make it happen today!“.
  3.  Check the team diversity. It sounds a hype as people today talk about diversity (probably all talks, but nothing really), but I do believe that team diversity is the secret sauce of a winning organization. A team formed with people with different backgrounds but with the atomic force to be bound and work together on commonly shared goals is much more inspired, eclectic and intelligent than others. The key here is combining smartness with flexibility, with the capability to surprise anybody carrying an unprecedented factor: the one solution that nobody would expect.
  4. Check if the organization is “eventually consistent”. In the software world, modern architects design systems made of different services which they have to work together or at some point they will be on the same page. In organizations, this concept applies to teams as well: the key is to understand how different departments are working together, how they synchronize their work, etc. Many companies have overlapping, competing projects and that is a base for organizations to be set up for failure. In Italy, many many centuries ago, there were two teams building two towers: the tallest and the strongest tower would have won. The first team was doing fantastic, working very well together, and going up in the sky without watching at the second team. The second team was horribly organized, was not succeeding and constantly watching the progress of the first team: instead of reorganizing and trying to win with their own manpower, they started to blame the other team for false play, using wrong materials, etc. The result was that the second team won with the worst tower ever produced.
  5.  Check how decisions are made. In a very good a dynamic organization/team, there is a trust among each other where managers and/or professional can make lots of decisions. People feel empowered and trusted to do that. Like Steve Jobs (see video) was once saying that he was hiring people so that they can tell him what they could do in a certain domain. Organizations should follow this belief: managers should only interfere when there is an impasse and there is a need to make a final decision (and that needs to be done very quickly otherwise the organization cannot move on). Decisions need to be explained so that people understand the why. Sometimes that is just enough for people to move on.

In the next blog, we will found out more about team collaboration with a very simple math exercise. Just to start, how much does 1 + 1?

Massimo

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