Thursday, September 29, 2022

Evaluating a Company to Join, Culture: Your Manager

Ok, back from vacation including but not limited to a wonderfully brief bout of COVID (first time!) and transitioning back into the school year.  Also, Wendy got a new role within SCAN, congrats to her! Where were we? Right!

While your senior leadership will ultimately determine the fate of your company and therefore your long term financial success, your manager will greatly impact your daily experience of work.  It is this daily experience of work that is so crucial for your mood, health, growth and development.  A bad manager can lead to burnout, poor work experience, stress and ultimately separating from the organization.  But a great manager can do something special, they can help bring joy to work, or at least help you develop toward what you ought to be doing.  Fortunately for me, my manager thinks about these things too.  

There are a few key qualities that you should interview for in managers:

  • Trustworthiness:  Does your manager do what they say they are going to do? Do they keep their promises?  Great, do the same and keep this person in your life forever. If not, run.  Do they keep promises to you (while you are favored) and break them to others when they are not? If so, run faster!  Life is too short to work with people you do not trust. 

  • Receptivity to feedback: No one is perfect. Every employee including a CEO, senior leadership, manager - has flaws and areas for improvement. A manager who listens to your feedback shows that your perspective is valued. It also indicates a willingness to absorb differing opinions to then make an educated judgment when a decision needs to be made. This doesn’t mean you’ll always agree on a topic, but healthy debate should be welcome because that means there is trust in the relationship.

  • Listening:  Sometimes you need to kvetch, and your manager needs to listen and take no action. Better it goes to your manager than erodes morale on your team or sets you up to look bad in the organization. Protip for managers (and all humans): just listen.

  • Results orientation: The purpose of work is to get things done. Ideally great, productive things that have a massive impact on the world. Results allow you all to focus as objectively as possible and ensure you aren’t kidding yourself that effort alone is enough.  Plus, with great results come great celebrations!  

  • Developmental orientation: Your manager is in the best position to help you become the best you you can become.  The best managers are ones who genuinely care about you and have the skills to ensure you evolve in your career. They encourage your strengths to flourish while sharing constructive feedback on your weaknesses.  They find ways to plug you into situations that give you the experiences you need. 

  • Advocacy: A great manager absorbs blame and shares credit, advocates for their team to receive appropriate recognition and reward, and does so in a manner that aligns company success with team success. They build peer relationships that allow work to get done smoothly and successfully.

These are just a few of the most important traits of great managers.  Much has been written on the subject and should be read by the managed and managing.   Be bold in interviewing your manager, they will make all the difference!

Up next will be a look into the business fundamentals to help you evaluate a company to join.