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I’ve been in my clerical position for close to ten years now. And I’m thinking of moving to another company for a greener pasture, except that I’m worried that if I’m hired I may not like the situation with my potential employer, much more to be stuck with a bad boss. Is there a way where we could predict the true color of a potential boss during the hiring process? What are the danger signals, if any? – Nervous Nelly.
A saloon keeper sold his tavern to a local church. Enthusiastic church members tore out the bar, added some bright, new lights, gave the whole place a fresh coat of paint, and installed some pews. Somehow a parrot that belonged to the saloon keeper was left behind.
One Sunday morning, that colourful, talkative bird was watching from the rafters. When the priest appeared, the bird squawked: “New proprietor!” When the men who were to lead the lay ministry marched in, the bird piped: “New floor show!” But when the bird looked out over the parishioners, he screeched: “Same old crowd!”
How about you? Are you concerned about the “same old crowd” or the same old situation, or the same old toxic boss who could be worse than what you’ve experienced before? Are you fearful of jumping from the frying pan to the fire?
The same thing happened to me more than 13 years ago when a bank offered me a lucrative executive position. They gave me a formal offer sheet showing an exciting pay package, but one condition – I have to stop writing my regular column for a business paper, which I started in 1993. Your guess is right: I rejected the offer right away because of my belief that an employer has no right to have an absolute control of an employee’s life.
Selecting an ideal workplace is every employee’s first and most important responsibility. If you fail to find the right environment, then chances are, you will not be happy and motivated, and you’ll feel like your efforts to succeed is like a sunshine on barren ground. But of course, that’s only one side of the coin.
You also have to consider talent. What made many successful people fast track their career is to make their talent flourish in the right kind of environment. After all, talent is only potential. This potential cannot be turned into performance in a vacuum. And great talents need great bosses if they are to be turned into performance.
Now, how would you know if your talent can meet a good boss who can nurture you to succeed in your career? The following danger signals as displayed by a prospective boss will help you determine if your working relationship can be for better or worse:
- When the manager comes in late for the appointed time. Everybody is busy, but no one - even if he’s the boss - has the right to be tardy in a scheduled meeting. If he’s the boss, the more reason that he should be professional enough to be the first one to respect the time of other people, including job applicants. If he’s the boss, then he has the right to tell others that he has to meet others in another appointment. If he’s late due to an emergency and gave a sincere apology, then give him the benefit of the doubt by comparing it with the way he handles the entire hiring process.
- When the manager is vague on the reason why a vacancy is created. That’s assuming that you’re clever enough to ask that question. If the reason given appears valid, say in case of illness, death or retirement of an employee, then ask why the job is not being filled up by insiders. Or ask them about the status of their succession planning. If you know how to ask the right questions along this line, chances are, the answers that will be given to you could mirror what could be in store for you in that organization.
- When the manager appears to yell than tell people about what he wants. Listen actively to what your prospective boss is doing or saying to people while you’re around. Check his body language. There are few bosses who firmly believe that the only way to manage is to intimidate people. They yell, rant, rave, and make accusations even in the presence of other people. Any manager who has to act in this manner obviously has not earned the respect that would gain attention without this childish behavior. When that happens, expect your prospective boss to do the same thing to you.
- When the manager practices fairness, not favoritism. This may be difficult to discover during the short period of time when you’re in the ante room. That’s why you have to be creative in asking people around the office for clues. You’ll be surprised that this is one area where perception overwhelms the reality of life.
This list is not exhaustive. In some instances, it could be debatable. Just as you rightly reap the benefits of being a paranoid, you should also accept the fact that there are bosses who can’t simply be read by their body language. As long as there are managers who are more than willing to offer an apology when things go wrong, then that’s more than enough for you to make a decision based on several objective factors, other than their character alone.
CHALLENGE? This article is for non-management people who can’t raise an issue directly against his/her boss for fear of reprisal. If you’re part of management who has an opposing view, send us your position by citing your own experience or any published material by a management expert. Send all feedback and queries to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Rey Elbo on Facebook or Twitter for his random management thoughts.
InterAksyon.com means BUSINESS