Spot A Bad Boss Before the Fact

Posted on: May 7th, 2013 by
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What kind of boss do you want?  What kind of boss will you get?  A boss’s history is prologue to the future. Will the communications with your new boss be open or closed?  You need to find out!  If you can’t ask these kinds of questions, is this the kind of organization you really want to work? You need insightful answers.


Questions to HR or the recruiter –  Are there individualized development programs?  Are there opportunities to coach rising stars in the firm? Does the company pay for high performance or is there a limited range of pay?  How political is the organization?  What’s the turnover rate in this department?  [If HR or the recruiter doesn’t answer these kinds of questions directly, be more probing.  Don’t’ they know or don’t they want to answer?]

Questions to peers or the boss’ direct reports (if you can’t meet with them, why not?) – Do you personally have a development plan?  Have you been able to expand your skills and responsibilities?  How much coaching have you received?  Do you work as an integrated team or as individual contributors?  What kind of boss is Mr/Ms X? [If no one volunteers to answer, be concerned.  If you’re given wishy-washy responses, try to find out why.  If they appear to be scared little rabbits, run away.]

Questions to the hiring manager (your future boss) – How many of your people have been promoted in the past 5 years?  Have any been let go based on performance?  Is high performance rewarded?  How?  What results will you be looking for me to achieve in the first 180 days? Does the company develop their talent internally, or continually hire from the outside?  What in my background can be put to use immediately? [The degree of openness will be an indicator of future communications with the boss.]

What kind of boss do you need? Identify the type of boss you need to be successful.  Examples of bosses:  1- I’ll leave you alone once objectives are defined.  2- I’ll supervise you very closely at each and every step.  3- I’ll only review your work at critical points.  4- Contact me through my secretary only if you have a problem.  5- Successes are mine. Failures will be yours.  6- I’ll always be available to you, whenever you need my support.  [Which answer fits you?]

Of course all questions must be modified to best fit the company and situation.  Make sure you’re a good fit in the new company.  If not, you’ll be the loser.

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