Change. As the aphorism eloquently states, it’s the only constant. I’m reminded of change each day during my ‘barrow bike’ commute, whether it be the change of seasons, the weather, the scenery, the people encountered, or the thoughts that rattle around in my head. It’s funny then that, despite the changing nature of the world we live in, most of us like routine. Big changes, (even welcome ones like buying a house, having a baby, or starting a new job) can cause us stress and make us insecure as we step away from the familiar into the unknown.
And changing jobs is precisely what I did a couple of months back. I chose to step away from the familiarity of the domain I’d been working in for a decade to start a new journey with Media Suite. This meant an entirely new role, spanning multiple, complex, and unfamiliar domains, with a whole new crew and completely new clients.
What could possibly go wrong, right?
Well, I’m now well and truly one of the Media Suite crew, having joined the other caricatures on the website – thanks to our very own Master Artist Sarah Pitts. Being one of life’s big changes, I expected my stress and insecurities to chart like a bell curve – starting small, but quickly peaking as I discovered how much I have to learn, then lowering as my contextual competence increased. Surprisingly, this change has come smoothly, as the crew have welcomed me in as one of their own. Why did it happen so smoothly in this case? Well, I’ve concluded that stress and insecurity don’t always accompany change, especially when at least one fundamental thing stays constant throughout – in this case, shared values.
Let me explain.
Something I’ve recognised as a common quality among the people I choose to surround myself with is their authenticity. I like the straight-shooting, what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of person. I want you to tell me if I’m heading down the wrong path, if I’ve done something stupid, or if I’ve got food stuck in my beard (or better yet, help fish it out for me!).
Teasing this out a little more, I’ve grown to realise that authenticity is a necessary element for me to develop trust in someone. And it’s the ability to place trust in those around me that I continually seek and value. So it’s not surprising that my number one consideration when on the job hunt was finding a workplace culture where relationships (both internal and external to the company) were built on trust. I was looking for somewhere where I could try something new, take risks, and innovate. But to do this I needed to know that if I fell off my bike en route, there was recognition that mistakes happen to the best of us. More importantly, there’d be someone there to pick me up and help me back on my way without blame.
Realising that trust is paramount to me is all well and good, but how could I use this in my job hunt? Trust isn’t immediately formed, so how long should it take to form? And what signs could I look for to improve my odds of finding a place where this would happen?
Firstly, the ‘how long?’.
Simon Sinek (well known author and motivational speaker made famous for his Ted Talk ‘Start With Why’) uses the analogy of love and marriage to illustrate this point. As he points out, you’d probably freak out if your friend told you they’d fallen in love with a person they’d met last week and were going to get married. But if that same friend was in a relationship for 7 years and wasn’t sure if they loved the other person, you’d probably think something was wrong. So we know love takes more than a week but less than 7 years, but no one can say specifically how long.
I think that the same goes for trust. We know trust doesn’t just happen immediately when we meet someone, but you can be sure that if it hasn’t formed after 7 years, it’s unlikely to.
So, given none of us can predict how long it takes, what could I do to improve my chances of finding a trusting workplace?
What are the signs?
This is where values come into play. Values are the principles or standards that guide our behaviour throughout life. When we encounter those with similar values we tend to have a natural affinity towards them. It’s that ‘I really like that person’ experience – that feeling of having something in common. So for me personally, the seed of trust lies in having shared values. So rather than focusing on trust itself, I decided to use values as signals of trust, giving me a GPS to help me on my job hunt. Values such as honesty, openness of communication, integrity, support of others – to name a few.
And thanks to some route programming by my good friend Greg, my job-hunting GPS led me on my barrow bike to my ‘interviews’ with Media Suite. I say ‘interviews’ because the experience was like none I’d been through with other organisations. This wasn’t your typical scene of candidate turns up, meets interviewer of suitable rank and authority, hierarchical structure is established, and the preset questions of skills and experience ensue.
This was different.
My experience at Media Suite demonstrated the values that ran the company, embedded within their interview process. Instead of an interview, I had conversations because they value openness of communication. Conversations with peers because they value mutual respect. Conversations with the whole crew because they value a non-hierarchical leadership system. We talked about meaningful things like purpose, the importance of family and work-life balance, having respect and integrity, teaching and learning from others, and having fun because Media Suite values forming deep relationships with employees.
I’d found something special here. The Media Suite crew were looking for someone aligned with their values, not someone who fit a mould made of predefined skill and experience. The fact that our values aligned was the GPS alerting me that I’d arrived at my destination.
Finding the trust
So here I am two months in, continuing my daily commute by barrow bike, observing the changes that come with each passing day, and embracing the changes that have come with my move to Media Suite. Being surrounded by a clever, supportive, and trusting team has meant I’ve been able to roll with the change, get into my stride, and work to my strengths, free of the stress that comes when these things aren’t present.
This particular change has meant I now wake in the morning and look forward to riding into the office and working on meaningful projects with the crew. Change has meant I now ride home in the evening feeling fulfilled and with energy and time to spend with my family. These are the types of changes I’d like to see more of in this world.