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 Evaluating Your Potential New Boss

By Joe Stein

Many studies have shown that one of the primary reasons an employee decides to stay or leave a company is his//her relationship with the boss. A great relationship can help a person overlook issues, such as a longer commute or even a little less compensation. On the other hand, not much will make a person move into active job search mode faster than a poor relationship with the manager.
So, it has always been curious to me why, if this relationship is so important to almost everyone, there is so little focus placed on this topic during the job search process. During the interview process, you should be evaluating your potential new manager.
The first step, however, before any evaluation is to completely know what you are looking for in a manager. There are numerous leadership styles and even more personalities to consider. For many, this is some combination of the best attributes found in previous managers. I should note that this is more than just what kind of personality or style this person possesses, but what is their philosophies or vision (and does it align with yours). It is important, however, to understand that you will not obtain everything on your “boss list”, but make sure you cover the most important ones and feel good overall about the person.
There are a number of techniques a person can do in order to conduct this evaluation. Keep in mind, that although my focus is on an external job search, all of this applies to a situation where you are seeking another position within your current organization. Let’s examine the most common methods of evaluation:
• Evaluate Your Observations – There are so many subtle items you can use in your assessment. It is important to have your radar up at all times for these clues. There are certain things to watch for…is the person on time for your appointments, are they fully engaged and prepared, and do they make an effort to make you feel comfortable. Observe how this person appears to interact with others, such as the person in the front reception area.
- Ask Others – If you are meeting with others within a company during the recruitment process, you can ask them about your potential new manager. It is especially a great opportunity if the person actually will report to the same person as you will. Don’t forget to also check your network to determine whether you can obtain some inside information in that manner. This can be a particularly good source, since these individuals should feel relatively comfortable in discussing the person compared to a person who still works with the potential new boss.
- Ask Interview Questions – The interview should not just be a time for the Hiring Manager to fire questions at you. You should have an opportunity to ask questions, and within those inquiries should be some about the philosophies and style of this person. - Communication – Ask about what meetings the person holds with direct reports. Are there larger staff meetings? How does the person wish to be communicated to (whether it is by e-mail, office drop-in visits, or some other method)?
- How Closely Does the Person Manage – In most situations, you will want to hear that this will depend on the situation and the person. Most Job Seekers want to hear that the future manager will be flexible and adapt as necessary.
- What Will On-Boarding and Training Look Like – This will provide a sense of how committed the Hiring Manager is in making sure you will be successful. A Manager who is devoted to a successful on-boarding will most likely continue to support and develop you during your time with the company.
- What Are the Current and Future Goals – By asking this question, you give yourself a peek into what is important to the manager both now and in the future. You can then assess whether you share this same vision, and if the projects communicated excite you.
- Inquire Regarding the Career Plans of the Manager – This can provide some insight into your potential career progression. If the Hiring Manager can outline his/her plans, then this can assess what this means for your own career aspirations.
There are so many items to consider when determining whether to leave your current employer for a new one. Right at the top of your list should be your perception of your potential new boss. A good manager can make most situations tolerable, and should be valued highly.
As always, best of luck in your job search!