The Upside

If You Want to Know What It’s Like at a Company, Ask This Person

If you’ve ever worked at a restaurant, then you know that if the head chef wants to get the most accurate feedback about the menu, you don’t ask the customers, talk to the servers or scan Yelp reviews. 

The answers can be found by talking to the bussers

That’s because bussers see first-hand which dishes are consistently left without a morsel on the plate and which ones are only halfway eaten. They are the ones scraping the plates and seeing what the customers enjoyed the most and the least. 

They are also weaving in and out of tables, quietly and invisibly, and hearing the table chatter. They can tell you a lot…

…if you just ask.

You can apply this exact same concept to your client prospecting and job searches. 

Want to know what it’s really like to work with a particular company?

Ask someone who is entry-level at that company.

These folks are either bearing the brunt of terrible leadership or reaping the rewards of a happy company culture. 

When I think back on my past jobs, it was the ones where I was at the very bottom where I knew the most about who was a good manager and who was a nightmare to work for. 

I could tell you the gossip on just about everyone and I knew who all the weakest links in the company were. 

A few years ago, a friend was so excited to tell me she got a marketing position in the corporate office of a major national retailer. 

I wanted to be excited for her, but the last time I was in one of their stores, the employees looked unhappy and were unhelpful. The store was a mess, lightbulbs needed changing and the bathroom was filthy. There seemed to be an overwhelming lack of pride across the retail staff.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her (and it wasn’t my place anyway) that I could already predict the corporate office would be full of nightmare leadership.

And unfortunately, my hunch was right. 

She hated the management and corporate culture there and left the moment she could line up another job.

So, next time you’re wondering what it’s like to work at a company either as an employee or in a consulting capacity, don’t ask the person you know in management.

Instead, ask the interns, assistants, on-the-ground staff and entry-level employees because they are the true reflection of how you’ll be treated.

Erin Halper

About the Author

Erin Halper is the founder and CEO of The Upside and the leading authority on independent consulting. Since launching The Upside in 2017, Erin has helped thousands of professionals transition from corporate life into consulting to achieve flexibility, autonomy, and a renewed sense of purpose in their careers.

Erin has been a frequent speaker at Columbia, NYU, Harvard, and Brown and has been featured as a leading future of work expert on dozens of podcasts as well as in Forbes, Business Insider, Nasdaq, Crunchbase and many more.

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