Do you know your work personality? Who you are at work is different from who you are in the rest of your life. When you’re looking for your dream job, it’s critical to know what you need at work and your ideal office culture so you can get what you need to do your best work every day.
Office culture matters, and there’s a lot of data that proves that matching the right personalities with the right environment is crucial for success, both for the workers and the organizations that employ them. If you know what you need from your workspace, you’ll be able to find a better fit at your next job.
It can be hard to know exactly what you need in an office environment, and you probably won’t find a perfect fit, but you can establish a basic understanding of your own work style that will help you find the right fit in your next office culture. It’s all about paying attention to how you’re feeling while you’re working, then learning the buzzwords that employers use to talk about company culture so that you can meet your perfect match.
Below, I’ll lead you through a few key ways to identify your work personality, and share some insights about how to find the office that best fits your ideal working style.
Find Your Work Style
When you’re job searching, it can be tempting to try to fit the mold of every job opening that interests you. But if you truly want to find a job you can enjoy, you need to dig deeper. Get to know yourself better: tune into the times when you feel most fulfilled with your work, understand the nature of the tasks that you’re best at, and use that knowledge to focus in on your career goals.
So how do you figure out your own work personality, and identify the ways in which you work best?
Do a Work Personality Assessment
First, identify your broad personality type. Yes, I am going to recommend you take a personality test. Personality assessments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are not a silver bullet, but they are tools to help you narrow your focus when it comes to your needs at work.
When you take a personality assessment, answer the questions from your perspective as a professional. Your test results will vary depending on your mental space when you took the test, so switch over to your work brain and your results will help you find your work style.
Once you’ve taken a test or two, analyze the results. What do they tell you about your work personality? Get your result in the common four-letter personality type assessment and think about how these traits apply to your ideal work culture.
Extraverted or Introverted:
- Extraverted: you might prefer working in an open collaborative office space with lots of give-and-take, brainstorming, and teamwork.
- Introverted: maybe you work best with your own office with a door you can close, minimal distractions, and clear expectations.
Intuitive or Observant:
- Intuitive: do you prefer to be an innovator rather than a rule follower? If you’re intuitive, you probably enjoy creating things from scratch.
- Observant: you probably believe rules are there for a reason, and you like to have clear expectations at work.
Thinking or Feeling:
- Thinking: you probably prefer to make logical decisions based on past data, and your office culture shouldn’t be too fast and loose with facts.
- Feeling: you’re more likely to follow a promising trend, and you probably prefer a close-knit office environment, where you can be friends with your coworkers.
Judging or Perceiving:
- Judging: you prefer a more structured work culture, possibly including a set hourly schedule and clear performance goals.
- Perceiving: you might like a more adaptable culture, with flexible hours and an agile approach to change.
Think about your past jobs within the context of each of these areas. Write down the aspects of the job that held you back or frustrated you. Then, most importantly, focus on the things that worked well for you in those roles! Those are the features you want to look for in your next job.
Get Context from Your Colleagues
Another way to identify your workplace personality is to survey your past and current colleagues. Many of us don’t fully understand our traits, especially at the office. The term imposter syndrome was coined in 1978, but it’s become a buzzword in the 21st century as more people switch jobs more often. We all have lots of opportunities to feel like imposters, but it’s usually just not true.
As you ponder your next career move, it’s more important than ever to have a clear picture of who you are at work, what you offer, and how you can thrive in your next job. So seek information outside your own brain!
Send out a short, anonymous email survey to people who have worked with you, whether it was through previous jobs, in school, or volunteer work, these outside voices can give you unbiased feedback to help you pinpoint what you need in your next office culture.
Here are some sample questions to get you started:
- How would you describe my personality in the workplace?
- When did I shine most at work? Which of my tasks, deliverables, or contributions stood out to you, and why?
- What do you think my ideal office culture would be? Why?
Not all of this feedback will be helpful, but if you find several people giving similar answers, that’s information you should pay attention to!
Visualize Your Perfect Workday
Visualizing your ideal workday is a simple but powerful exercise that can help you get clear about the kind of workplace you want to join. Take some time to visualize your ideal workday from start to finish and write down your description. Try to be as detailed as you can, identifying specifics like:
- Your hours: are they set or flexible? Early or late? 5-day weeks? 12-hour shifts? Full-time or part-time? Do you work for a full 8 hours at a time or work in chunks of time throughout the day?
- Your office: are you in a large corporate office downtown, a small neighborhood space or your own home? Do you work in an open office environment with shared desk space, in a cubicle, or in a private office just for you? Is your office bustling with talk, pets, and music, or is it silent with everyone focused on their work?
- Your team: is your team “flat,” with leaders getting in the trenches and everyone wearing many hats, or is your team hierarchical, with clear roles and each team member focused on their individual task? Are you working mostly alone or collaborating actively with your teammates? Are you regularly checking in and talking with your teammates, or do you prefer to focus individually?
- More broad aspects of your day might include your interaction with your manager, your ability to voice concerns, the level of support you receive in your career development (don’t forget about future professional development), salary and benefits, etc.
Once you’ve got a clear picture of your perfect workday, you can go a step further and organize these details in order of priority. Some of these aspects of your day may be non-negotiable; which of these are a must, and which would be nice to have? This list becomes a great resource to check against what’s on offer when you scope out open jobs and potential companies to target in your search.
Find Your Office Culture Match
Once you know what your work personality is, and you’ve identified the type of office environment and culture you need to succeed, it’s time to celebrate! You did real work to understand yourself, your ideal office, and your office culture must-haves. By knowing what type of office culture suits your needs and personality, you’ll avoid a lot of heartache and frustration – for yourself and your future employers!
Now that you know what you want and need in an office culture, you might need to do some research on companies. Learn about different types of company cultures and the words organizations use to describe culture to get a better understanding of where you’ll fit. And you may need to take some guesses and do some recon when you apply and interview to make sure you’re a culture fit with the employer. But ultimately, when you know yourself and your needs, you’re in a great position to express yourself and find your best office culture match.