How to set yourself up for success at your new job

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In a fabulous 2008 HBR article, “How Star Women Build Portable Skills,” written by HBS Professor Boris Groysberg, he describes how women (Wall Street analysts) were more likely to ask the tough questions before being hired.

Women look at the culture of a department, in terms of how women fit in, along with its values, atmosphere, and tone.”
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Set up for success

Groysberg found that women developed a portable network outside the company and that they often asked about the management style, the working conditions, and if the objectives and remuneration were clear and objective. As a result, they were better able to set themselves up for success.

Set yourself up for success

It got me to thinking about what would be the tough questions that I would ask to set myself up for success were I to be looking to get hired by a company?

The tough questions

So, here are the questions that I would include in my list (outside of the bleedingly obvious ones):

  1. What percentage of people (including senior executives) work from home at least once a week? Once a month?
  2. How many senior executive meetings start and end on time?
  3. How is adversity and divergence of opinion handled, especially when it comes to the CEO?
  4. Would my wife and I like to have dinner with the CEO in my own home?
  5. To what extent is the customer central to the business ethos and process? How does the CEO connect with the customer him or herself?
  6. What place does emotion have in the organization?
  7. What is the activity level of personnel (including senior management) on the internal intranet?
  8. What does the social media policy look like?
  9. How is employee engagement measured and activated? (Facilities, amenities, activities…)
  10. How diverse is the senior management population?

Set up for success

Hardly strategic or scientific, but another thing I would personally want to avoid is if too many people smoke. Outside of not enjoying the smell of cigarettes, it is my distinct impression that a company where there is a higher-than-normal proportion of smokers can be a sign of too much stress (or potentially of boredom). The point here, and with these ten questions above, is to find your own questions that help you align your own values and principles with the organization into which you are headed. {♺!}

What would be the questions you would like to ask before saying yes and to help you to set yourself up for success?

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