Let’s take a birds-eye view of a job interview. Marion, the employer, is interviewing Patricia, the applicant, for a senior role in an organization.
Marion is looking for experience and competence. She is looking for someone she can manage. She is looking for loyalty and professionalism. Her questions are designed to assess how much Patricia understands about the work. She tells Patricia what the job entails. She clarifies the salary range and vacation time. She engages is some personal small talk to get a feel for the applicant’s personality.
Patricia needs a job. She is pretty smart and she reads Marion well. She knows how to present herself in a positive light. She is articulate and asks reasonable questions about the role that indicates she understands something about what is required. She is ready with her strengths and challenges.
Fast-forward 8 months. Marion is unhappy with Patricia’s performance. Patricia has started sending out her resume. This was a mistake.
What if at the start the employer and applicant talked about these questions:
- Let’ talk about what it is possible for you to become here…
Can you tell me more about prospects for my own professional development?
- Let me tell you what we are about here. We have a community with a set of values. Let’s talk about some of them and how they show up
What are the core values that guide the way you work here? Can you give me some examples?
- If you join us, we believe that you can make a difference in some important ways. Let me describe what I mean….
It is important to me to add value and make a positive difference in my work. Can you tell me if and how that might be possible here?
We can no longer pretend- yes even in this economy- that a senior staff member of an organization can thrive and contribute in an environment in which meaning and purpose are off the table. We need to consciously construct our work culture with attention to both heart and mind. We need to see our workplaces as communities in which relationship and integrity are paramount.
If you feel this void as you look at your own workplace-- even if you are not at the top of your organization – start agitating for change. Starting talking about what matters. Start living the reality you want to inhabit.