Bosses are a lot like dates, after a certain number of them you know what works and what does not. When I was greener in my professional life, I just wanted a job in the field that I was pursuing. Obviously, a boss was part of joining the company, but I felt like all I needed was a foot in the door and I could make anything work. I’m still the Labrador Retriever of personalities. I like everyone and all people are awesome. Just throw me a ball!
We know that’s not true though. Everyone is not awesome at work and the wrong boss can make eight to ten hours a day feeling very unfulfilled and downright miserable. If I could go back to college and have a chat with myself, these are the “Boss Hunting” rules I would lay out.
- Avoid working for someone you’re going to outperform or have better qualifications. Your resume may be what the CEO is looking for in a new hire, but you report to your hiring manager. A boss that is threatened by you will not develop you or even worse. One of my favorite VP’s had an MBA and she pushed me to be better.
- Don’t come in to save your boss. I took a position once in a department that did not have a workload challenge but a process challenge. Being a resourceful farm boy, I can McGyver anything and make it work. As my boss was a sinking ship, my ideas were not credited to me. Once things stabilized my ideas were not welcome.
- Watch the sales pitch. Why is this opportunity available? It’s a huge question that not everyone asks. Turnover in a position means that someone is gone and if it’s not in their favor, the answer may not be straight. Did you want to admit someone broke up with you? Employees realize when they need to leave a bad manager. It’s a huge mark when someone you spend 8-10 hours communicating with quits or is fired. It’s a huge plus when they are promoted.
- They’re not as passionate as you are about the profession. Not everyone will be passionate about their job – and that’s O.K.. Many people have their passions outside of their professional life. That being said, if you are passionate about what you do, it’s a better fit when your boss is also passionate. If you seek out continuing education and join professional organizations find a boss that will appreciate that drive and encourage you.
- Can we talk? Communication is a huge part of chemistry. If the chemistry isn’t there, is this going to work? Just because people have common interests doesn’t mean they will hit it off. That promotion may go to someone the boss communicates with better.
And those are the five rules I’d go back and tell myself when I find that time machine.