Moving up the Ladder- Choose a Boss, not a Job

I hear people don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses (I also think they leave salaries though! Lol!).

It’s been said before that if you want to be successful you should surround yourself with like-minded people. I can’t remember who said it, possibly Ben Huh. But the advice was “if you want to be an entrepreneur and need to have a day job, then you should try to find a role where you report directly to the CEO.” That was solid advice in my mind and I have found myself in that exact situation. Luckily, during 6 years of my professional career, I got to work directly under CEO or top level executives of different Companies/Firms in India and Nepal.

Many job seekers think that the boss chooses them when they go to an interview but don’t forget that you can choose as well. If you choose your boss wisely, you can progress in your career much faster and unlock your potential. Remember that the reason you are in an interview is that the employer has a need that you can hopefully be the solution to.

“A boss who doesn’t trust you won’t give you opportunities to grow”

Before you agree to join a company, you want to be sure that the people you will be working with will be helping you out, transferring knowledge and making sure you progress in your role. The most important person will obviously be your new manager. Picking your new boss is similar to choosing long term friends or even your partner – the difference being that you are likely to spend more waking time with your new boss.

Most job-seekers aren’t just looking for the right work — they’re looking for the right manager, too. To a large extent a manager will control your assignments and your work environment, so it makes sense to try to learn more about him/her long before you’re hired.

But in an hour-long interview with a hiring manager, you will be lucky to get ten to fifteen minutes to ask your own questions. For this reason, as a job candidate you should not only be concerned with your answers to a hiring manager’s questions, and but also a potential manager’s answers to your questions.

Make sure you get the selection right by going through this checklist before you decide if your potential new boss is right for you:

1. Chemistry/Connection

You immediately know if you connect with a person or not. During the interview, you can have an idea of how that person behaves, talks and even you can understand his/her sense of humor. Therefore, you can feel as if you can work with that person over the next two to four years. If you click right away, lucky you! Otherwise, it is best to consider other options. Once you have left the interview, you’ll have that gut feeling. Be honest with yourself; can you see yourself working with this person for the next three to five years?

2. Background

Ask the hiring manager his/her background. Why did s/he choose this position? How long did it take him/her to become a manager? What s/he likes and doesn’t like about the company? These answers can give an understanding of the career path within the company. Also, ask about his/her goals. A good manager should have a vision. If s/he knows where s/he is heading, as s/he moves up the ladder, you can move up as well.

3. Working style

By asking the right questions, you can have an idea of the manager’s work and management style. Ask what his/her priorities and expectations are. Look for clues to find out if s/he is micro-managing his/her employees or more of a hands-off style person. Also, try to learn if s/he is willing to teach you new skills. Otherwise, it would be difficult for you to move forward in your career.

4. Can you learn from them

Just like they say you should work to learn, your boss should be your teacher. If you can see yourself learning from this person right now and for the next years, you are probably on to a winner. The question to ask yourself here is whether they possess skills that you want to acquire and do they seem happy to share these with you?

5. Whom do they report to

Insist on meeting the boss of the boss. You need to understand what type of manager they report to as this will trickle down to your situation as well.

6. Problem handling

There is nothing better than a bit of pressure to see someone’s real character come out. Whether it’s a conflict in their team or an IT crash, how did they handle it? Ask for a specific example. This will give you an idea of how they would deal with you in case you lock horns in the future. They say a clever employee knows how to manage their manager, and the only way to do this is by knowing how they are likely to react in a particular situation.

7. Company outlook

Ask the manager what major obstacles they foresee for the company, what their plan is to overcome these. This will show you how clued up they are on matters outside their department and what preparations they have in store.

8. Where are they heading

Try to understand what the goals are for the boss. Is he or she going places or staying put for the foreseeable future? You need to know this as you might want to move up the ladder one day. The flip side would be that you could end up being managed by a complete stranger overnight.

Your ability to get along well with your future manager will mean everything to your job satisfaction and career progression. After you have interviewed your potential future boss, take your time to digest the information. Always go with what your instinct tells you about the person. Never chase only money or glory as it will come back and bit you where it hurts


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