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We’ve all had at least one horrific boss. However, if you are repeatedly working for miscreant managers, stop blaming your bosses and start refining your bad boss radar.
Below are five suggestions that are aimed to help you avoid yet another unhealthy career move.
Boss Reference – Your potential boss will check your references. You should do the same. Although it is clearly inappropriate to ask your new boss for a list of referrals, you can readily devise such a list on your own.
Use LinkedIn to locate people who formerly worked with, or for, your potential boss. Even if the references did not work directly with your future manager, they may still have valuable insights that would otherwise be impossible for you to uncover during the interview process.
Once you connect with someone who has had first-hand experiences with your potential boss (or has worked at the potential employer, even if in a different department), consider asking them the following questions:
How are employees evaluated? Is the process formalized, fair, ad hoc?
Does the potential boss deliver criticism in a healthy, constructive manner?
What’s the best descriptor of the potential booss’s leadership style?
What personality characteristics are typical of people who are successful members of the boss’s team?
What do folks who work with the would-be boss like / dislike most about the experience?
You can obviously ask a variant of these questions directly of your potential boss, but the thoughts of a former co-worker will likely generate a more objective, honest critique.
Employer review sites, such as Glassdoor and Comparably, can also provide valuable clues as to a company’s culture and an executive team’s overall management style. If bad behaviors are commonplace, or even rewarded, such sites are pretty good at outing bad actors.
Try Before You Buy – If possible, perform ad hoc projects for your prospective employer part time during the weekends and evenings. I did this twice in my career and it allowed me to assess the people, culture and veracity of the company’s value proposition before I joined full time. Although this tactic is not practical for everyone, it is a highly effective way to minimize career mistakes.
Bad Hires – Ask your potential boss about former employees who were not compatible with her work style. Assess the manner in which your would-be manager describes the process by which she terminated these employees. If she is sympathetic and takes ownership of the employees’ failures, then she will likely be empathetic with you as well. If she becomes defensive and/or demeans the terminated employees, you should expect a similarly negative reaction should she subsequently find fault with your performance.
Matching Patterns – It’s well documented that institutional investors utilize pattern matching when vetting a potential investment. You should also identify patterns when assessing a new job opportunity. For instance, consider your past incompetent supervisors. How did these horrible bosses mask their personality flaws during the recruitment process? Were there signs that should have alerted you to the trouble ahead?
Make A Job – The only way to ensure you will never encounter another bad boss is to call upon your inner entrepreneur and make a job, rather than take one. Although you will not have a formal boss at your startup, you will remain accountable to investors, partners, customers and your employees. The pressure from these stakeholders may cause you to wish that your biggest problem was a difficult boss.
Although bad bosses are inevitable, you can learn a great deal from them. In fact, my managerial skills were greatly enhanced after working with one particularly horrible boss, as he reinforced what not to do when attempting to motivate and manage people.
Even though a bad-boss experience can be enlightening, it is best to avoid incompetent managers by doing your research, having the courage to ask awkward questions and speaking with people who have first-hand experience working with your prospective boss.
Never forget that if you have a problem with your boss, you have a problem, not your boss. You can either attempt to resolve the issues or move on in your career. Assuming your boss will accommodate you is an unrealistic, losing strategy. Thus, if you currently find yourself in the clutches of yet another dreadful boss, force yourself to honestly answer this question: “Why do I continue to work for a cretin when I could be working for an awesome boss?”
In most cases, the real answer will be “fear.” If this is the case with you, do yourself a favor, though you may suffer some near-term angst, begin looking for a new job now, with your bad boss radar turned on and fully operational.
June 12, 2019 at 02:48PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs