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The Chemistry Lesson
Author: Rusty Rueff
Angel Investor and Board Member of Glassdoor.com and HireVue. Former CEO SNOCAP and EVP, Electronic Arts. Co-Author of Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business.
Pay Attention to the Chemistry Lesson When Thinking About Your Job Change!
In the last few weeks I have been coaching and counseling a couple of current Heads of HR about career transitions and I have found myself telling them both, after they had less than stellar interactions with the CEO (their soon to be new boss), to pay attention to the “Chemistry lesson”.
There are few jobs where the content of the job and the company can win out over chemistry between you and your prospective boss, as success in nearly all jobs is built on relationships of trust and influence. You don’t have to be the Head of HR to know that when we are successful we have achieved that success because we worked for someone who trusted us; gave us a wide enough berth to get our work done; and who genuinely liked us. Subtract chemistry from this equation and the recipe is a good old-fashioned pot of disaster brewing. I’ve spent too much time in my career with people who tried to make the fit work when they knew down deep it wasn’t going to be either easy, or even possible, but their own confidence or pride got in the way of calling it off before the vows were said. Problematic relationships with bosses are not like wine, they just don’t get better with time.
Conversely, if the chemistry is there, then meaningful job content and satisfaction can be achieved. It could also be said that the company itself also becomes less relevant at that point. I have a friend who is locked at the hip with his boss and he is on his third company together with him where they have turned around and done some amazing work, even across different industries. At the end of the day, we don’t really work for companies, we work for people and it is with people that the chemistry exists, not the product or service that is being delivered. Gauging and finding if the chemistry is right is not that different than the high school lab experiment. In the interview (and you should ask for more than one with your boss-to-be) test the matching of values, principles, work styles, interests, communication patterns and likes and dislikes. The more you test and the better the reaction that you feel, the better the chance of success.
So, 2013 will undoubtedly bring new career opportunities and decisions will have to be made. As you contemplate a new job, then open up your chemistry book and let your ears, heart and gut talk to you and really be honest with how you “feel” about the chemistry. Miss out on the chemistry lesson and you are taking a big chance that you will probably regret.