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Six Ways To Tell If You Work For A Really Great Company

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How does your employer stack up? Do you work for a great company?

A company where people really want to work has one of the most powerful competitive advantages in the game: the ability to hire and field the best team.

Building that advantage can often take years—even decades or more. That’s just the way it is with employer reputations. They’re built career by career, annual report by annual report, crisis by crisis (because every company has one or two of them), and recovery by recovery.

In today’s media-saturated world, however, there is a major exception to the generally slow pace of reputation-building. Companies can become preferred employers virtually overnight thanks to the “buzz factor,” which is as potent as it is fast-acting. In a technology-based company, buzz usually comes with an exciting breakthrough or paradigm-altering product or service. Google, Amazon, and Twitter are perfect examples. Buzz can also come from having a glamorous or prestigious brand, like Chanel or Ferrari.

But across all of these magnetic companies, there are a few big common denominators.

So how does your employer stack up? Do you work for a great company?

Here’s how to tell…

  1. Great companies demonstrate a real commitment to continuous learning. No lip service. These companies invest in the development of their people through classes, training programs, and off-site experiences, all sending the message that the organization is eager to facilitate a steady path to personal growth.
  2. Great companies are meritocracies. Pay and promotions are tightly linked to performance, and rigorous appraisal systems consistently make people aware of where they stand. As at every company, the people you know and the school you went to might help get you in the door. But after that, it’s all about results. People with brains, self-confidence and competitive spirit are always attracted to such environments.
  3. Great companies not only allow people to take risks, but also celebrate those who do. And they don’t shoot those who try but fail. As with meritocracies, a culture of risk-taking attracts exactly the kind of creative, bold employee’s companies want and need in a global marketplace where innovation is the single best defense against unrelenting cost competition.
  4. Great companies understand that what is good for society is also good for business. Gender, race, and nationality are never limitations; everyone’s ideas matter. Preferred employers are diverse and global in their outlook and environmentally sensitive in their practices. They offer flexibility in work schedules to those who earn it with performance. In a word, great companies are enlightened.
  5. Great companies keep their hiring standards tight. They make candidates work hard to join the ranks by meeting strict criteria that center around intelligence and previous experience and by undergoing an arduous interview process. Talent has an uncanny way of attracting other talent.
  6. Great companies are profitable and growing. A rising stock price is a hiring and retention magnet. But beyond that, only thriving companies can promise you a future with career mobility and the potential of increased financial rewards. Indeed, one of the most intoxicating things a company can say to you, as a potential employee, is: “Join us for the ride of your life.”

And that launches a virtuous cycle. The best team attracts the best team, and winning often leads to more winning. It’s a ride that you and your people will never want to get off.

Written by: Jack Welch

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