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How to hire your own manager: Questions to help you tie the knot

How to hire your own manager: Questions to help you tie the knot

Ever work for a manager that, shall we say, didn’t really work with you?

Ever wish you had the chance to find a better one?

Fully 31% of people quit their jobs because they didn’t like the manager they had to report to everyday. When you consider that it costs a company an average of 100-150% of that person’s salary that quits, you’re talking about a lot of money leaving a company because of a bad boss.

What if you could change that?

In past months, we’ve talked about managing down, but there’s another level to this – managing up. Having your boss “work” for you. No, it doesn’t mean that he (or she) is boss in name only, but it does mean that you have the ability to influence (aka lead) your manager to help make you a better employee (we could say person, but I don’t want to go TOO far).

When talking to a former employee of mine, Anita Miller, on a recent visit to Washington DC, she shared a few practices that she has used. She’s currently in a rotational program and has some flexibility in selection of the teams that she work for during that rotation.  She is looking for managers that will help push her (in the right direction) as well as help her forward her career. It’s not just about her – it’s important to be a strong part of a small team, and she’s ready (and willing!) to do that as well.

When “interviewing” potential managers for her next rotation, she tends to ask 3 questions:

  • What do you do over the weekend?

Short, simple and to the point. It gets the manager to open up a bit, and you get a bit of insight in their “other” life (Remember when you first ran into your school teacher in the grocery story?? They have an outside life? What!?). Another point, Miller says, is that it helps clarify workload and hours expectations. If the person laughs and says “Well, I spend my time here, of course! Where else?” – you know you may have a problem

  • What are your career aspirations?

You want to follow someone who’s moving. Somewhere. They could have a protean career (a career that follows a pattern of interests and opportunities, not ladders. Look it up, it could describe you) – or they could want to be CEO by the time they are 40. If they don’t have goals, or “haven’t thought about them much” – then that’s probably a good indication they won’t be thinking about yours, says Miller. It doesn’t mean you will be stuck; you can do it alone, but do you want to fight an uphill battle?

  • What are some of the challenges your team is facing?

Again, it seems like an easy question – but all too often, managers can disengage themselves from the day to day – especially if they have a lot of requirements and deadlines looming from those above them. Are you ok with someone who is disconnected from their team? In Miller’s experience, frustration can set in when a manager doesn’t understand what you really do. Recommendations for promotion or even annual reviews could suffer if their knowledge with what you really do (for them AND the company) don’t align.

How do you use these? Simple. Next time  you apply for a job (and I know you’re out there, because about 33% of the US population will do so) or when you’re looking for what’s next – think of these questions or others that really get to the meat of who you are – and more important – who they are. Because – you know as well as I do – having a great manager is the beginning of a great job.

Are there more questions you could ask? Probably. In fact – I bet you have one in your head right now. These questions don’t answer everything about a manager’s style, but they’re a start. What would you ask a manager (the one you have now, if you could, or the next one) – if you could interview them? Share your response questions here

Original Post: March 2016

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