Do you have any tips on how to find a great boss? I’m in the job market now and would love to find someone I really enjoy working with. S.W., Anaheim, CA
Undoubtedly you’ve heard the old saw, “People leave managers, not companies,” so this is a really smart question. Your relationship with your manager is the most important predictor of workplace happiness because your manager controls your access to resources and opportunities.
First, you have to know what you’re looking for. Ask yourself questions like, What values and attributes are important to me in a manager? Am I looking for someone who steps in only when I ask or do I want closer interactions? What do I still need to learn?
Then think about the tradeoffs associated with your answers. For instance, if the question is, “Do I want to be associated with a high-profile manager or am I good with a steady managerial presence?” It’s important to realize that a high-profile manager may spend more time than you think reasonable managing the perceptions of others to burnish his/her reputation, which may limit your access to your manager.
Once you have a good idea of what you want, prioritize the values you’re looking for because a values mismatch is hard to overcome. Then based on your career path, create a hierarchy to show the attributes that are most important to you. Now you’re ready to create questions you can use in an interview to help you get answers.
For instance, you might ask, “What is your preferred style of supervision? How do you like to be looped in about the work your direct reports are doing?” Or “What would you say the direct reports you most enjoy working with have in common?” Go for open-ended questions that allow your potential manager to expound and you’ll get a good idea of what they’re all about. And remember, if you find that you’ve made a mistake even after you’ve done all this, you aren’t trapped. There is always another path.
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