Choose Your Coworkers Carefully

Out of all the interviewing tips you’ve received when searching for a new job, “Choose Your Coworkers Carefully” probably isn’t one of them. Most career seekers focus primarily on the salary, benefits, commute, and opportunity for growth and development. These are all areas that deserve your attention, to be sure. But have you considered Jim Rohn’s idea that you are the average of the five people with whom you hang out the most?

When choosing your next workplace, you need to take a long look at the people you’ll be working with, advises Eric Barker. The odds are that you’ll become like them, rather than their becoming like you. Since you could be spending 40 or more hours every week with them, it makes sense to check out and choose your coworkers carefully.

“When it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It affects our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions,” says Aimee Groth of Business Insider. However, this doesn’t mean we should choose only people who support and agree with us. Groth cites research proving that to be come expert and make progress at anything, we all need to receive critical or negative feedback. But it would be wise to surround yourself with people who can help you improve in your career rather than drag you down.

Have you ever wondered why fields of corn are planted so closely together? It’s because each cornstalk needs to be pollinated by the other cornstalks in order to produce corn. If they are interspersed with pumpkin vines, they wouldn’t be fruitful.

In assessing potential coworkers, Barker points out that networks will grow whatever they are seeded with. What type of coworkers are planted in the organization you’re hoping to join? The time you spend with good people will improve your own goodness. Choose a positive, altruistic, happy workplace and you will adopt those same characteristics. On the other hand, Barker especially warns job seekers to avoid narcissistic coworkers. There’s a very real danger that you may become victimized by them or, worse, become like them.

How does the admonition to choose your coworkers carefully translate into action during your next interview? First, ask if you can meet the immediate team with whom you will work if you are hired. Some  employers won’t offer this until you’ve been invited back to a second interview. Others might not offer it at all but would probably facilitate it if you request it. At Amtec, we believe that it’s in every employer’s best interest to make sure you’re a good fit for their position in your character, competence, and culture.

Second, remember that you are interviewing the organization as much as they are interviewing you. It’s up to you to ensure that your new workplace environment will be one where you can truly thrive. Ask the hiring manager to describe his or her managerial style. Then try to learn more about the company culture–find out what this particular network has been seeded with. (Read this for great questions to ask in your next interview.)

Jessica, Amtec’s gracious receptionist, grew up hearing her wise dad tell her, “Association is impartation. Whomever you associate with is what you will become.” That’s the fancy way of saying, Choose your coworkers carefully. Find out what kind of seeds the network of your future employer has been planting. If you’re a cornstalk, don’t choose a pumpkin patch. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb and fail to grow to your full potential.

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