“Working hard and working smart sometimes can be two different things.”
– Byron Dorgan
There’s an old adage that goes: ‘People leave bad bosses, not companies.’ There are also circumstances where there is simply a misfit between employee and employer with regards to work / business interests, company culture or work values.
But independent of these factors, it can also be contended that some companies just simply suck.
Within my short 3.5 years career thus far, I was quite surprised how widely disparate some of my experiences (internships & full-time roles) have been. Have also heard tonnes of good / horror stories from friends. All in all, some companies really trail behind in their overall attractiveness as an employer and below are some reasons why:
1. Excellence Isn’t Rewarded / Mediocrity Isn’t Frowned Upon
Carrots & Sticks. Some of the world’s top companies have both.
‘Carrots’ are there to well, attract promising talent, reward good performance, retain and groom the top-performing employees. Recognition and rewards are lavished upon these deserving groups.
On the flip side, many top firms also wield a strong ‘stick’ to kick the ass of the lazy, non-performing people who take incessant coffee / smoke breaks or spend more time at the foosball tables than their own work stations. There’s little hesitation in firing free-riders and dead-weights.
So if you work for a company that has neither.. you know what to do if you are driven and want to build a career.
2. People Are Constantly Leaving
We are not talking about a one-off ‘Moses-like’ post-merger situation where disgruntled employees from the acquired firm pack their bags and leave. Nor are we talking about situations where the company has made a concerted decision to lay-off entire departments or business units in lieu of a change in business direction.
But If the voluntary turnover rate is high AND constant, it’s clear how awesome the company already is. You can see the alumni club growing faster than the actual active no. of employees.
3. There’s Always Some Type Of Re-Structuring
If the company is regularly announcing some form of re-grouping or shuffling people around like poker cards, this may indicate issues with the leadership or the company’s performance. Or perhaps simply a measure to deal with the issue of people constantly quitting and leaving huge gaps in the ranks. Seen that before.
Amidst these turbulent times, managers may advise you that there are opportunities to step up and shine since you are the old kid on the block (or maybe the last kid left) who knows about the job function more than everyone else. While it is true to some extent that you can learn to be really adaptable and punch above your weight, don’t forget that these situations signal instability.
Furthermore, with all these uncertainty and unrest, your career development and personal aspirations may take a backseat as the management is pre-occupied with dealing with the big fire in the house.
4. The Company Skirts Core Underlying Issues & Only Attempts To Fix The Symptoms
If you take a rotten egg and paint the shell to yield a fantastically cute and delightful image, it’s still a rotten egg.
If people are consistently working 60-70 hours a week, burning the candle at both ends but not getting paid top dollars, there’s gotta be some underlying issue that needs to be addressed.
Are your staff inefficient blockheads? Are your employees being over-worked? Is your company under-staffed? Are the clients respectful of your employees’ time? Are you respectful of your employees’ time?
I’ve heard of companies who have faced these issues. What they have done about it is discuss how much dinner claims an employee can obtain if he works past 9, or some other superficial initiative that is hopeless as the core issues have been avoided in the first place.
5. It’s Always About the Company’s Objectives; But Not Your Own (Career & Well-Being)
Let’s take the nature of the communication between employer and employee as an example. Every now and then, representatives from various departments will send emails to the entire office. It could be from HR, corporate comms, finance, investor relations, the CEO etc.
In some companies, the communication between the company and the employees largely only center on the company’s objectives, like the performance versus the set targets in this quarter. The town-hall meetings are of a similar nature. They rarely genuinely focus on topics around employee well-being, career progression and everything about you as an individual.
All in all, you can probably sense if a company treats you like an individual or just a ‘resource’.
6. Responsibilities & Expectations Increase, But Not The Salary
Some companies just pile on substantially more work on you without even remotely touching on the subject of how these added responsibilities would be reflected in your overall career objectives, nor having any intention of grooming you to move up the ladder… and therefore the accompanied raise in salary.
If you can sense that the company is just paying lip service and expecting you to accommodate its ever-increasing demands without giving you your due rewards, well…you know what to do.
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