One thing to look out for in an organization you would love to work with or continue to work with is their culture and commitment to the growth and professional development of their employees.

You can look out for this growth culture in three dimensions:

  1. Experience
  2. Capacity building
  3. Finance

1. Experience

When taking a decision on where to work, you have to ask yourself if you will gain enough experience that will make you more valuable in the future. If you are working in a place already, ask if the experience you’ve gathered will make you employable somewhere else. Find out if the experience is something you can replicate if you eventually start an organization of your own. A lot of people work for 10 years in a place but have very little or no relevant experience to even get to an interview stage when they apply for a job. Even when their resume gets picked for an interview, they don’t end up getting the job. Your experience should be able to give you an edge and help you rise up professionally.

2. Capacity Building

It is important to ask during interviews the capacity building plan of the organization you want to work with. Find out from the employees working in that organization if they have existing structures and processes to train and build the capacity of their staff in terms of knowledge, skill, expertise and practice. Are they deliberate about it? Do they send their staff for training, workshops, courses, etc? Is there a mentoring or grooming culture to help staff develop their skills? Or are they the type who would not invest in the growth of their employees because they think when you improve you would leave the organization? You need to know if such organization is operating a scarcity or abundance mentality. Find out if they are happy and not scared to see you grow and succeed professionally. Find out if they are comfortable to see you at one spot in your career.

Also, see if they have the culture to give employees opportunities to apply for higher positions within the organization. Or do they think you don’t have capacity and get someone from the outside. When you don’t build capacity, you won’t be given opportunities. Therefore you must work on building your capacity even when your organization does not support you. If you don’t make efforts like they don’t, you are the one who won’t grow. And their perception about you won’t change either. It is also important to see if they are an organization that is willing to give their employee a chance when there are openings within the organization.

3. Finance

An organization that pays well is one great place to work. It is one factor that keeps almost every employee satisfied and motivated, especially when every other factor is in place. When an organization makes a lot of profit but deliberately pays their staff peanuts, doesn’t have structured plans for salary increase, good health insurance, housing allowances, retirement benefits and so on, then it is obvious that they are not thinking of your financial progress. Finance sometimes can compensate for capacity building. If you are paid well, you can personally pay and enroll for courses that will help you grow professionally, as well as give you capacity to earn more. The worst place to be is to work in a place that pays you peanuts, and also takes all your time that you don’t have time for personal and professional development. That can keep you in a spot for a very long time.

Because we have different priorities, finance may come first for you. And for some other person, capacity building may come first for them. It depends on where you are at in your professional career, as well as your long and short term goals.

The growth culture established and the length an organization is willing to help their staff grow, is largely dependent on the heart of the leadership, their ideology of what great leadership is and the legacy they hope to leave in the hearts and lives of everyone that works with them. This is enough to help you decide how long you want to work at a place, or whether you even want to work their at all.