When Planning your career, choose your boss
A threes step process to look at your next assignment.
As I work I Human Resources many people ask me for career advice, and the way I try to do that is in three steps:
The first step is knowing where they want to go, and this is directional of course, as the business environment changes so rapidly, it’s about setting a direction rather than focusing on a specific position. I tell people that the job they will have in four or five years probably does not exist now in the organization.
So they need to set a direction, whether they want to follow a functional career, become an expert in a field, go into a General Management track, and so on.
The second step is to talk about personal restrictions, which most of us try to downplay: mobility, a working spouse, time of assignment, work-life balance issues, and travel time.
Thirdly how are you going to get there, and how does the next assignment will help on that journey.
We look at what experiences you will gain if you are going to manage people, what type of team, the nature of the work, the decision making process, the line of business, and everything that comes with a new assignment as well as your new boss.
But in the past, I did not spend much time on that.
Zoom in to this one.
I have worked in 4 companies for 16 Bosses, and if you add up the “dotted-line” bosses, the count probably goes to more than 30.
I had fewer positions than bosses, as in one position I had several bosses and, each time my boss changed, or I changed jobs it was a learning experience … for the good or the bad.
So after 4 companies, 10 positions and more than 30 bosses, I looked back to recall which of those experiences had been the best, from a career perspective…and always the best bosses provided the best career experiences. From bad bosses, you learn what not to do, and there are different types of bad bosses, when they are really bad you can feel miserable.
The company is an important factor, as well as the position, but the defining component of a great career move has always been my boss. And I have had great bosses most of the time.
A good boss, for me, is someone that empowers you, that you can learn from, that cares about you as an individual, that provides the right experiences, contacts and exposure opportunities, someone that lets you make mistakes and learn from them, and someone that is also willing to learn from you.
A bad boss is the absence of these behaviours, or the opposite behaviour, such as someone that micromanages, does not delegate, you can’t learn from them, does not provide learning opportunities and does not care about you as an individual.
Making the choice.
So now for myself and others, I follow the three-step process, but at the end of the day, the defining element of choice is who is going to be your boss.
So if you can, when planning your career…. Choose your boss.