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December 3, 2012
The 5 Most Important Factors for Choosing Your Work Environment
 
Being in the right work environment is as critical (if not more) to enjoying your work and being successful at your job than any other component to consider. It is so important, yet many people are not in a work environment that allows them to thrive and be fulfilled. Moreover, half of the clients I work with are actually in the right role or in a job that truly is a fit for them, but their work environment is not a fit. They’re miserable.

Many people come to me ready to change their career path completely and take a risk in doing so only to realize they don't have to do that. They just need to make a course correction by changing companies to a work environment that's a better fit. For example, my coaching client Katie in Chicago loved what she did at a consulting firm. She enjoyed her peers and those she managed, but her boss and the work environment were so unbearable for her that she left. Her firm lost good talent. So how do you know when it's time to make a big change versus when you're about to throw the baby out with the bathwater unnecessarily?

Here are five things to consider when defining the right work environment.

Personality Types: Whether you're interviewing for a new job or evaluating your current position, consider what personality types you work best with. For example, more conservative people vs. more progressive people? Creative and artsy types or people who are more literal and logical? None of these need to be mutually exclusive, but consider all personality types when you're thinking about this. A great way to start is to look at your friends. The people you choose to be around on a regular basis and the traits you like in them can provide clues to what you'd prefer in your coworkers, bosses, peers, and clients if you are in a customer service–oriented role.

Organizational Culture: When you go on an interview for a job, walk through the lunch or break room. What's the vibe? How does it feel to walk through their offices? Are people running around rushed and unfriendly or taking time to smile and chat? There's no right or wrong here; it's up to you to determine what works. But take the time to look around and take in how it feels to be there before you commit. If you're already committed, take a day to really notice the culture and determine if it's really a fit.

Values and Mission: Think about your own values before an interview. Ask in an interview what the company’s values are. Find out their mission if it's not posted online or elsewhere. Do their values align with yours? Do you agree with or believe in what the company stands for and how it does business? You have to keep in mind of course that in a job interview for example, they're putting their best foot forward and we know all companies don't live their values. But asking is a first step to finding out more.

What's Your “Type”?: Consider whether you are more extroverted or introverted. A crucial piece to how your day goes is whether you are spending the right amount of time alone or with others. I had a job where I was required to be more extroverted throughout the day and had a lot of interaction with coworkers and donors, and I was exhausted by 8 p.m. because I'm more of an introvert. What are you more comfortable with? Do you get more energy from being around people (extroverted) or from being alone (introverted)?

Management Style: Another important question to ask in an interview is about the management style. Is it a more hierarchical work environment from what you can tell or more of a flat organizational structure? Make sure you speak to your prospective boss to get a feel for their personality type. Ask them about their management philosophy. 

As you’re evaluating the right work environment for you, remember that not everything has to "hit" for you to be perfect. You can decide, for example, that as long as the values align with yours and the management style does as well, you can deal with a few coworkers you don't mesh with. Compromise is part of the equation. But going into this with your eyes open, feeling like you're choosing which things to compromise on, is far better then feeling trapped in an environment that isn't a fit and is making you unhappy.

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Guest Blogger Hallie Crawford is a certified career coach and founder of HallieCrawford.com. Her team of coaches help people find their dream job and make it a reality. She is regularly featured as an expert in the media including the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and US News & World Report. Visit her website at www.HallieCrawford.com for more information about her team's career coaching services. Set up a Complimentary Career Strategy Session with Hallie Crawford to get advice on your career goals. *Mention you saw us on Talent Zoo and receive a free bonus if you purchase a product or sign up for coaching.* http://www.HallieCrawford.com
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