As the year ends, I was trying to analyze the last couple of months I have spent with my employers; months that have not really been so easy.
Months that have taught me one of the biggest lessons learned out of school: Fitting in. Fitting in is the single largest contributor to getting and keeping a job, more important than your skill levels.
What exactly is fitting in? It’s being comfortable in one’s work environ and making others around similarly comfortable. Employers want to hire people who will embrace, on philosophical and moral levels, their approach towards business and the world.
The remarkable fact about fitting in is that it will vary depending upon the organization you join.
Fitting in will mean something different if you want to work for the government or military from what it will mean if you want to work for a private company or a public interest organization.
Fitting in simply means that you will be comfortable around your co-workers and they will be comfortable with you.
Fitting in can also is akin to being part of a family: Everyone may not be the same; however, they share a certain set of beliefs and philosophies about the world.
Being ‘comfortable’ means different things to different people.
This can be expressed as a set of positives or as a set of negatives. Your employers do not want to have to think they will be uncomfortable around you.
Your employers do not want to have to think that you will be critical of them. Your employers want to feel that you will get along with everyone in the office and will not be a source of tension.
If you examine most work places closely and get inside of them, you will almost always notice some very strong similarities in terms of the types of people that are most often hired.
The people are never the same; however, their tolerance (or lack of tolerance), for certain types of behavior, is often quite similar
Failure to fit, no matter your academic and technical skills’ level, will more often lead to unhappy and unfulfilling careers.
Having been raised to believe that the true measure of success can be measured purely by how well we perform academically, many people enter the work world like shooting stars.
We arrive at the very best work places and soon leave them for the next and then the next. If we are smart, we learn the importance of fitting in and if not, our careers are quickly over, and we are left blaming a self-imposed set of circumstances and people for the problems in our careers.
Honestly, sometimes it’s not about fitting in with your fellow employee’s but your boss’s and I also know too well that not every one can fit everywhere. Too bad.
Emmanuel Nyagapfizi is a Management Information Systems manager