“There were so many red flags. Why didn’t I pay attention to them?!” – all of us at some point probably.
Recently I was chatting with a few of my friends from college and we were discussing some of the red flags that we have seen and missed or should have seen in our professional lives. One of my friends had recently been laid off, the other knew she was on the verge of being laid off because her biggest client didn’t resign a contract, and another was about 3 months into a new job at the time and wasn’t sure if this company was as he thought it was when he accepted the offer. I am happily employed and i swear i’m not just saying that because my boss is the one editing this blog!
At first I thought about writing a blog about red flags that we all should be looking for. Then I realized that the key isn’t in noticing red flags and the course of action you take when these red flags either fall in your lap or hit you in the face. The way to prevent feeling blindsided is to constantly be on top of the information available to you.
I sat down with Frank Judd, Director of Client Accounts, to gather insight. Instead of asking him about the red flags he sees, we dove into how to keep your eyes open for red flags throughout your entire career. Basically, Frank expressed that it comes down to what he likes to call “health checks.”We have conversations with our clients all the time about the health of their business, from a financial perspective, a product perspective, and a management perspective.
In a small or medium sized company, the first place you should look for red flags is within the ownership. Does the owner and top-tier leadership want to do the work that’s necessary to bring this company what is can be and to really make this company have a real imprint in this space? There is a difference between someone who is building a notable and successful brand versus someone who is bringing this company to a certain valuation in order to sell it and move on.
In larger companies, you probably see red flags less in this environment unless you’re a very vigilant person because there are so many moving parts within the organization. To me, the first and most obvious place to look is performance. If you’re working for a huge company, chances are it’s a public company. Look at the finances and look into how transparent the company is. You can start by evaluating how transparent your immediate boss is. Depending on how much access you have to the person you would report into, how transparent is that person when you bring up conversations regarding the company’s equity, health, brand, etc.
If they do come back to you and say that the company is weak in certain areas, its key to look for whether the company has a plan of action in place to course correct.
The other area I would look to in order to gauge red flags is the interest of the workforce. How connected or disconnected is the workforce within this company? Are many of the people working for this company passionate and excited about the work they are doing and consistently trying to better themselves, their performance, and the company’s performance overall. Or are people coming in, working, and clocking out. I’ve spoken to many people who would agree that this is a HUGE sign of the company’s health.
When a company needs to reevaluate and restrategize, often the success of the proposed solution depends on how competent, willing, impassioned, and enthusiastic their workforce is. They want a transformational change agent who will come in and revamp.”
These are just a couple of the ways you can be on the lookout for the health of the company you are working for or interviewing with. If you have any questions or comments for Frank, send them to our Marketing Specialist, Trisha Patel, at [email protected].