In an article in Fortune, Erin “Mack” McKelvey, CEO of SalientMG, confesses that if she could go back in time and give her 22-year old self-advice, one of those nuggets would be to pick a role wisely. She explains that if being an assistant isn’t your dream job – don’t do it.
Want to do great in your career? Pick a boss you love.
According to Dr. Shane Lopez, author of Making Hope Happen, via Gallup “to love your job, you need to work for someone who gets you, who understands your life. Certain people, certain bosses, are better at understanding certain people, getting their people promoted, or developing talent.”
Of course, most of us aspire to reach that apex where the awesome job meets the ideal boss but landing both of those planes at the same time isn’t always an option, particularly for lesser experienced talent. So often, we go for the job first (experience), find ourselves stuck with a bad boss, and then turn to job-hopping for a desperate out. Consequently, Gallup published a new study supporting this idea just a few months ago and explained that out of 7,200 people surveyed, about half left their jobs to escape a boss.
Surprise? I think not. It’s no secret that if there’s a single person that shapes your employment experience more than you do your own, it’s your boss. From the time you come into the company, to the projects that you work on, to the challenges you encounter, to the opportunities you’re presented. Odds are that whatever you’re doing your boss is going to influence it along the way. As such, it’s critical to find one that is right for you and has your back.
How do you know if your boss has your back?
1. They’re empathetic.
Every job has its ebbs and flows. Even your dream job. Sometimes things are great. Other times? Not so much.
Were you ever excited or proud about something that happened either at work or in your personal life that just didn’t even phase your boss? Or were you ever concerned about something that your boss was apathetic about?
Whatever the case, empathy, as defined, is the ability to share and understand the feelings and emotions of someone else. It’s the person that can relate to you and the person that actually (emotionally) puts themselves in your shoes. Your happiness is shared. Your concerns are felt. Your boss sincerely cares about whatever it is that you sincerely care about.
Considered a cornerstone of Emotional Intelligence, empathy, according to Stephen Covey, when displayed towards others brings defensive energy down and positive energy up, resulting in more creative problem solving. Let’s be honest, what work environment wouldn’t appreciate more of that?
2. They’re empowering.
This boss challenges you to step outside your comfort zone to get the job done. They raise your bar. They provide direction where needed but allow you to dive in and take the reins. They don’t waste your life but rather are committed to helping you develop and do bigger, better things.
And when it feels uncomfortable? They’re there for that too. When you make mistakes, they do not crucify you but instead create an environment where it’s safe to fail because failure yields growth.
They support you – whether with guidance, resources, encouragement, or time. This boss is the person that believes in you even when you don’t believe in yourself. This is the boss that when you look back is largely responsible for helping to elevate your resume and career to the next level. This is also the boss that is responsible for helping elevate your confidence to the next level.
3. They put you before your job.
In today’s age, jobs come and go but people are always a company’s best competitive advantage. A great boss knows this and goes above and beyond to make people feel valued personally and professionally wherever they are in their career. They’re trustworthy. They care. They’re constantly keeping an eye out for wellbeing. Is my associate happy? Challenged enough? Getting enough sleep? Working too many hours?
Of course, there are some occasions where associates need to work late or put in hours on a day off but these should largely be the exception, not the rule. A boss who has your back knows that your personal wellbeing comes first. They allow you to be on vacation or disconnect because they know that if you recharge, you’ll bring the best of yourself back to work. If you ever decided to move to a new opportunity, this boss would be the one to give you a glowing recommendation and help you along the way. Not because they want you to go but rather because they want to see you go and do great things. And if a new opportunity is what it takes to do great – they’re there for you whole-heartedly.
What other ways do you know if your boss has your back? There are surely many signs, but the most important piece of the puzzle is ensuring you have the right boss – for yourself and for your career.
*A big “thank you” to my fantastic management for inspiring me to write this blog.