You walk from the elevator to the door, wiping the sweat from your palms onto your chinos. You slide your hand inside your bag to make sure your resume is there, a gesture you’ve done about 45 times since you left the house. Okay, it’s time. Wait, smooth your shirt down first. It’s doing that weird foldy thing again. Why did you wear this shirt? It always does the foldy thing.
You go in. Your mouth's as dry as the desert, but you somehow manage to say what you believe to be your name. You float into a conference room. Someone sits across from you and asks you a series of questions you somehow manage to answer. They nod “yes” from time to time. They don’t smile.
They made it seem like a theme park, not a haunted house.
Incredibly, they offer you the role. You’re excited. You got a great impression during the interview. You jump right in. Days and weeks go by. You’re buried under work, not the work you thought you’d be doing. Your colleagues don’t seem excited about the direction of the company. Clients are yelling. The product is struggling. You think back to the discussions you had in that interview. They made it seem like a theme park, not a haunted house. One month in, you think, “did I make a massive mistake?”
Three months in you start to think you were misled. But hope still exists that maybe the organization will become what you believed it to be on that first day.
One year in, you’re searching for the escape hatch.
As a CEO, I’m doing everything I can to avoid situations like this, one I’ve been in myself at a previous employer. It’s not just damaging for the employee and their career. The organization has just wasted a ton of energy…all because of the lack of honesty. Honesty is how organizations make good hires and potential team members make good career decisions. Honesty from both will ensure that the fit is right. And as I’ve said before, fit is everything.
An employer wants you to be successful - tell them how you can get there.
Whether you're an employer or a potential team member, be honest about everything. If you’re an employer, be honest about the job responsibilities, day-to-day duties, and reporting structures. Also be honest about how compensation is set and limits on what the role/organization can offer. If you’re a potential team member, be honest about your skill set, your experience, and your needs. An employer wants you to be successful - tell them how you can get there.
Be honest about the past. If you’re an employer or a team member, what’s the history? What mistakes have been made, and what have you learned? Here’s something I’m honest about when talking with potential new team members: Factor has been through three complete identity changes in the past 24 months. Effects can be felt. This fact won’t be found in a press release, but if they do decide to join, knowing it will make it more likely that they will succeed.
Be honest about the present. If you’re an employer or a team member, where is the excitement? Where are the concerns? What are you great at, and what are you getting better at? I always make sure I’m honest about being a first time CEO. This fact can be found in a press release, but people deserve to have an extended conversation about what that means for my development areas, and what those would mean for them.
Be honest about the future. If you’re an employer or a team member, what’s the vision for the future? How are you getting there? Where do you hope to be in five years? With as many candidates as I can, I try to have a conversation with them before they accept the offer. I want to share my vision for Factor’s future, and I want to make sure it’s aligned with where the candidate hopes to one day be.
Once in the role, keep the honesty up, and keep assessing for fit. As an organization, be straightforward with team members about what success looks like. Make sure team members have what they need to succeed. As a new team member, ask questions. Clarify. Make sure the organization is what you believed it to be all along.
Greater trust leads to greater enjoyment which leads to better work.
Factor is a new organization in many ways, and I’m aiming for my team members and my organization to reap the scientifically proven benefits of a high-trust culture. People who work in high-trust organizations enjoy their jobs 60% more. Greater trust leads to greater enjoyment which leads to better work.
We’re still creating and refining the structures to get us there, but culturally, the tone is set. It’s going to take some time for the processes to catch up, so we’re clunky in some ways. But at every point, we’re honest about it.