Researching Jobs, Your Future Boss, and Work Culture

Koan.com published a study today of bosses, companies, and their relationship-building abilities to show the importance of feeling a part of a team may be the difference of who you would want to work with and who you would avoid. Well, maybe.
Please take a look at their study as I break down key takeaways I think benefit job seekers.
In researching culture, you would want to know the culture of your team and the leadership style because we all know it matters. No one in this new world of remote work desires to work on teams that don’t value communication and camaraderie, right? It means everything to show you’re able to contribute to the team with hiring managers. Intel that informs your interview conversations and questions will show you’re a fit or not.
Koan is a company that says they “…help teams to set goals, build positive habits, collaborate on progress, and deliver results.” They just released survey results of how people fared mentally and emotionally at this point of the pandemic.
Koan states that their survey methodology included “Koan surveyed 646 anonymous full-time office workers spread across the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, and Canada on 5/5/21 via SurveyMonkey.” 
The critical leadership traits workers valued:
The leadership created psychological safety on their teams.
The team and leadership made camaraderie and a sense of belonging.
The leaders allowed created a bi-directional dialogue.
While researching a company, you want to understand the team dynamic and company culture as much as possible. Therefore, you’ll need to dig deeper than just checking the company website to glean and understand how to be a standout contributor.
By using Koan’s survey results, you can use their findings as a guide in seeking out the best place for optimal work performance:
  1. Ask both employees and team leaders about how they created psychological safety on their teams.

According to a McKinsey & Company survey, teams shifted away from an authoritative leadership style to a more consultative style. Its implementation shows that leaders “consult their team members, solicit input, and consider the team’s views on issues that affect them.”
Workers are concerned about the differential treatment of those who work at home vs. the office. Yet, in the news, we hear the views of CEOs stating people should be comfortable with and not workers or teams seeing it as a viable option. If the CEO speaks into existence the mandate of how employees will work, doesn’t this create a more hostile environment than a safe one?
A job seeker looking into company culture should talk to employees about how employers provided psychological safety on their teams during the pandemic. Also, asking how much collaboration occurs between team leaders and employees will give you an idea of how much belonging people feel.

2. The leadership created psychological safety on their teams.

Most people will agree without hesitation work is not a social club, although bits of socialization make work more pleasurable. Yet, some prefer isolation and maintain sparse interaction outside of work (and that’s fine).
During the pandemic in the Koan survey results, the distance between coworkers showed, “During a time when we were physically isolated more than ever, 84% of people felt a sense of belonging on their teams.” Workers experiencing isolation during the pandemic swung between loving the independence and freedom in workflow and being home. Yet, employees embraced the growing camaraderie between coworkers because of the trials of the pandemic that brought them together.
After the twin towers attacks of 2001, the whole country felt a sense of concern and togetherness. It was a moment where people were concerned about each other’s well-being and state of mind. Of course, since pandemic, feelings vary, but the camaraderie buffers work pressures.

3. How did they create a bi-directional dialogue? 

Koan states 53% of respondents got feedback from their boss regularly and were able also to give feedback upwards. Although this is not good if little more than half of the companies establish 360 feedback, some teams and companies are making progress while working remotely.
Merriam describes bi-directional as “involving, moving, or taking place in two usually opposite directions.
Koan also discovered:
  • Employees who are engaged with the company mission and have a sense of purpose related to their work are 5x more likely to make progress on goals.
  • Employees are satisfied with their direct manager, and they are 6x more likely to make progress on team goals.
  • When employees knew their work mattered to the company, they were nearly 7x more likely to produce work they were proud of.
Discerning job seekers should expect candor as they ask employees of the company how satisfied they are with their boss and the management personnel they engage. A lack of openness should be taken as a red flag if the company says bi-directional dialogue exists, but others say it doesn’t. If you’re usually an engaged contributor to a team and like the dynamic, this dialogue could disrupt what makes you happy about the group dynamic. Without bi-directional dialogue, could trust exist within the team or company?
Employees need a water cooler place, whether virtually or at the office. A safe and engaging work environment is having leaders understand and respect the team dynamic from the meetings to the small talk.
As a job seeker, asking the right questions about the company and team dynamics is vital to your role as a contributor. Very often, if feedback and questions aren’t a staple to establish good performance, it’s hard to perform at a rate that complements the team.
Be ready to dig a little deeper while researching a company. Talk to former employees and current ones to ensure you have the information you need to establish yourself as a fit on any team during job interviews. However, people will then need to ask what will be the usual office dynamic and if there needs to be a return to the way it used to be.
Other surveys on remote work dynamics and well-being:

It’s time to reimagine where and how work will get done

PWC, Jan. 2021
Cisco, July 2020

Originally posted at The Voice Job Seeker