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Four Of The Most Important Things You Should Look For In Your New Boss

Four Of The Most Important Things You Should Look For In Your New Boss

When looking for a new job, it’s always helpful to have a set of certain criteria in your mind in terms of what you’re looking for in your next opportunity; this helps to narrow your search and helps ensure your transition is ultimately is met with success.
 
For instance, maybe you’d like to reach a certain level of seniority, and for this to be reflected in your wage? Perhaps you’re hoping for a position that provides ample opportunities for progression? You may be looking for flexible working, more opportunities to upskill or a shorter commute… maybe even all of the above.
 
But how far up your new job wishlist does a good boss feature?
 

Why a good boss should form part of your new job wishlist

Whether you realise it or not, your boss has a huge impact on your career success, engagement and fulfilment. After all, they are the person you answer to, and even depend upon, from time to time. It’s therefore hugely important that they are a good fit for you and the way you work.
 
The impact of having a bad boss are well documented; lower morale, less engagement, decreased wellbeing, heightened stress and even poorer health. Oh, and having a bad boss could even make you more likely to be a bad boss yourself.
 
So, it’s important that you add a good boss to your criteria when looking for your next role.


Four ways to spot a good boss in an interview

1. A boss who acts as your mentor and coach

Lifelong learning and continuous upskilling are becoming more and more important in the evolving world of work, so having a manager that you can learn from is essential to your continued personal development. A manager who is committed to their own personal learning will also encourage you to place more importance on your own.
 
If you work for someone who fulfils their role as not just a boss, but a role model too, their motivational and inspirational qualities will work wonders for your career  and levels of engagement as you progress.
 
Furthermore, in a coaching capacity, a good boss will use any problems you do encounter in your work as opportunities for teaching. Instead of resolving the problem themselves, they will use this experience and guide you through the resolution in a way that benefits you and the business as a whole.
As Carla Harris explains in this TED Talk, Another major benefit of a good boss is that they can act as a ‘sponsor’ for you, speaking on your behalf in closed-door company meetings to which you may not yet be invited – a particularly important consideration for anyone who wishes to be well-rewarded and to get ahead in the workplace.
 
So, how can you spot a boss who has these qualities when you are in an interview situation?
 
  • Do they ask any questions relating to your career plan and future ambitions? If so, this shows that they prioritise professional development and will be invested in helping you to achieve your career goals.
  • When describing the role you’ve applied for and the company as a whole, do they make a concerted effort to paint a picture of where the job and organisation fit in the bigger picture and the role you will play in this journey? If they do, this indicates that they will help you to build on your strategic, future thinking skills.
  • When you enquire about training and career opportunities, how responsive or dismissive are they to this line of questioning? This will tell you whether the potential for upskilling exists and how invested they are in the development of their people.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them about their own career path, either. What does their career journey to date look like? What can you learn from them? Are they passionate about what they’re doing right now?

2. A boss who is a team player, not a lone wolf

Another essential quality in your new boss is that they work well, and in collaboration with not just you, but others. Do they delegate effectively, or simply leave you an task and deadline with little discussion or context? Will they take responsibility if something doesn’t go according to plan? A good manager will do this and much more. They will create an inclusive team environment, valuing diversity and building a shared sense of purpose within the workforce.

They will also be open to hearing your opinions, and welcome feedback and even critique. Their managerial style will be to innovate, driving performance while valuing diversity. This will mean there is less risk of micro managing (as explored in this Forbes piece), and greater opportunities to progress your career.
 
When your boss advocates for their entire team and isn’t simply in it for their own gain, you stand a better chance of building your career and professional reputation.
 
Here’s how you can begin to identify these key qualities, as early as the interview:
 
  • Look out for the language they use. The simple use of ‘I’ vs. ‘we’ is a clear indicator of whom or what is their main focus at work.
  • Are their questions motivated by collaboration? Do they seem interested in how you would fit in with the rest of the team?
  • If there are already others present – an interview panel, for instance – what is the dynamic between individuals? Does a clear team ethic already exist in this workplace?
  • Ask about the wider team – what is the team or workplace culture, and how do the individual roles – your own included – fit into this dynamic?
  • Do they make time to show you around the office and introduce you to potential colleagues after the interview
  • Ultimately, the interview should feel more like a conversation than an interrogation. This will prove that they are interested in who you are, and how you will work with them and others.

3. A boss who both communicates and listens well

Whilst the world of work is increasingly powered by technology, verbal communication skills are still imperative. Without these, a manager won’t be able to perform the basic functions their team depends on, including planning, leading by example and performance management.

When managers apply this simple but essential skill, their team members stand a better chance of clearly understanding their roles and responsibilities and will work much more productively. Good communicators naturally have excellent, open-minded listening skills too, so managers with this trait will also be better at giving and receiving feedback.
 
Able to articulate your part in the bigger picture, they will help you to find more purpose, resolve conflict strategically, and explain decisions and ideas more effectively.
 
Bosses who communicates well are also more likely to be influential themselves within the business, thus providing more potential for your future career progression – and here’s how you can find this out at interview:
 
  • They will ask clear and concise questions, and, answer any questions you have for them in the same manner.
  • Good communication skills could mean they also probe you for more information as they will be more likely to actively listen to your answers – so you should be prepared to communicate effectively yourself.
  • Non-verbal communication will also be important. Look out for good eye contact, nonverbal cues, and the sort of encouragement you’d hope for in a leader.
  • They are also less likely to interrupt you, and, instead will  guide (or to put it another way, manage) the conversation as it progresses.

4. A boss who treats you like a human being

Ultimately, your boss should regard you as a human being first, rather than just another entry on the payroll. This means that alongside the management skills that help your boss to achieve their goals, they must display strong emotional intelligence and empathy. True leadership demands authenticity and the ability to empathise with each and every member of staff.
 
Moreover, authenticity is much more than being yourself. As a quality, it is defined just as much by what others see in you, so you should look out for openness and open-mindedness. Honesty and integrity are both fundamental to building team morale and promoting inclusivity.
Both praise and critique should be delivered genuinely, creating a more comfortable and communicative environment with a friendly and approachable leader at the helm.
 
So, when you go to the interview, you should look out for the following indicators of a boss who will see you as a human being, not a robot:
 
  • You will feel comfortable in their presence, and able to build a rapport with them without feeling like you’re only there to appease them. They should be there for you, too.
  • Body language and other nonverbal communication are important here, too. You should feel like you’re being attentively listened to.
  • Questions about your interests outside of work are important. This is a clear indication that you are being assessed as a person, and not just a potential employee.
  • If you have any questions for your interviewer, there is no reason why they shouldn’t answer yours just as comprehensively as you have answered theirs.

Other key points you need to know

It’s entirely possible that you could find out a great deal about your new boss before they officially become your new boss. With a little online research or even asking a couple of questions prior to interview, you could learn a lot more about them before you even meet.
 
If you have the opportunity to experience the office prior to interview, for instance on a pre-interview tour, see what you make of the general environment. Is everyone happy? Are they talking to each other? Do you feel welcome?
 
Finally, no matter how enticed you may be by salary, benefits and any promises of future development and promotion opportunities, you should remember that a good boss is at the very least, just as important. After all, if everything goes to plan, you may be enjoying a fruitful and rewarding career alongside this person for not just weeks or months, but years or even decades to come.

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AUTHOR

ALEX SHTEINGARDT
Managing Director
Alex joined Hays plc in 2008 with a sole aim of launching the operations of the leading global recruitment company on the Russian market. By attracting some of the key people in the industry Hays operations doubled year on year. Currently, we are expanding teams, both in terms of functional recruitment areas (i.e. Accountancy & Finance, Internal IT etc.) and in terms of industry expertise (i.e. Oil & Gas, Resources and Mining). Alex graduated in economics from the Russian State Academy of National Economy. He started his career in 1996 as a Project Executive for an international engineering company. His career in the company developed for over 8 years, and he reached the role of Managing Director of the Russian subsidiary. In 2003 Alex joined a well-known European retailer to launch their operations in Russia. He later began his career in executive search and recruitment with a Pan-European executive search consultancy. Alex has been with Hays for 9 years and is reporting to Managing Director of Northern Central and Eastern Europe.