Question: I am a senior manager in the MedTech industry and, after 20 years with my current company, I feel it is time to seek new challenges. I’ve been for several interviews and I’ve been offered the perfect role with another firm. But I am concerned, as I heard the last person in the role damaged staff morale and several team members left as a result. Should I accept the position despite this? How can I go into this new role and invoke a positive working environment for everyone?
Answer: Making a change in your work life is a difficult and brave decision to take at any point in your career development. You should balance both your feelings for your current role, as well as the potential development beyond.
While you might have heard rumours about your potential new role and the state of morale, there are other things that you need to consider before you even tackle that issue. Be sure about the move for your own reasons first and then you can look forward to how you might address any internal issues. Here are a few things you should consider before deciding if this is the role for you.
Have you looked at the overall structure and culture of the company? The organisation’s position and reputation in the market should be taken into consideration. How does this match with your expectations for your career? Are their ethics, the product or service they provide as well as their ideology in keeping with your outlook?
How would you prefer to spend your time in the workplace? Consider this carefully. Do you prefer to be part of the production of the product or service or would you prefer a more strategic approach? Do you enjoy people management? Managing people might be what you are doing in your current role but is this something you want to continue with at the new organisation.
Level of seniority/job title
Compare your new position with your current one. Is it genuinely a step forward? Take the time to ensure this is not a lateral move and that it will advance your career. Don’t forget that the level of seniority and job title can be negotiable.
Salary and conditions
Conduct some research on the new company beyond the bare details of the job advertisement or offer – including benefits, environment and culture. Consider the culture of the organisation, the atmosphere, the non-monetary benefits provided. Do these conditions meet your requirements?
It seems that you might have already considered most of these issues and that the role is ticking some of the boxes without concern. But things you have heard have led to doubts about what would otherwise be a dream opportunity.
Undertaking such a large change is daunting, so it is important to give due consideration to all aspects of the situation without missing out on the opportunity. Once you are certain this is the right opportunity, the task of tackling the issues, of improving morale, building a strong team and improving the organisation’s reputation begins.
It is important to note that reputation issues may be rumour rather than reality. You will only know when you arrive in the role and don’t forget you might have a different take than the person who told you that morale was damaged.
Evaluate any issues on arrival in the job. Conduct informal or formal surveys to gauge engagement and morale. Analyse the structure and consider the “fit” of each manager to their team and role. Partner with human resources, be that a department or individual, to learn more and devise a plan. Setting the tone, making immediate subtle changes or building a new team can signal change and help develop a new culture.
Building trust is integral to the working relationship. Providing clear communication, following through on promises and providing a safe and respectful environment will help mend any damage done in the past. Listen to employees at all levels, acknowledge concerns and emphasise the need for change. Working on the issues outlined will be a challenge but rewarding if successful.
This article first appeared in The Irish Independent, on August 13 2017.
Senior Occupational Psychology Consultant