I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time, so it’s about time to record some of my current thinking on the subject.

Do your homework before deciding on a new job or new role

You have probably heard that people don’t leave a job, they leave a boss. My experience has led me to believe that’s true. But there is one more facet to the issue. People don’t leave a job, they leave a culture–a culture that is unhealthy, unrelenting, unrealistic and unkind. We could add some more adjectives, but let’s leave it at that.

You could  step into a job or a responsibility that, on paper, looks  like a great fit for your philosophy, your experience, your talents and your passion. But before you say yes, here are two things to take a close look at:

  1. Who will you report to?
  2. What is the culture of the organization where you will be working?

You could have the best job in the world, but if you have the wrong kind of boss. It could be a train wreck of a job

You could have the best job in the world, but if you need to operate in an organizational culture that values everything but the people who work there, you have a bad job.

Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about from your own experience.

Let me unpack each of these (boss and culture) a bit:

Boss: You will not be your best if you have a boss who has to have everything done his/her way with no opportunity to bring who you are to the table; a boss who is not open to new ideas, new ways of doing things, new ways of thinking or challenging how things are done; a  boss with zero tolerance for mistakes; a boss who has no time for you, never asks you how you’re doing or who shows little or no interest in your well-being or how your family is doing, but only in your production. You don’t want a boss who is seriously insecure and abuses, disparages and demeans  people in order to feel better about himself/herself.

Culture: You will not thrive in a culture that is unrealistically  demanding; one that always prioritizes profit over people; a culture that values traveling at a breakneck speed with no regard for its people, and is in decision-making crisis mode most of the time. You will not do well in a culture that is unethical (with lawyers ready to come to the rescue)  and willing to cut corners to make a little more money. You want to work  in a culture where you can feel safe, be seen, be heard, be respected, appreciated and cared for; where you can be yourself without walking on egg shells or always looking over your shoulder.

This is a start on boss and culture. I’m sure that some of you can add things to what I’ve shared, so have at it.

The bottom line in all of this is that the boss and/or culture can make or break your job.  Before you step into a new job or role, exercise due diligence and find out about your boss and the organizational culture. The interview process should be a two-way street. They are interviewing you, and you will want to interview them. Make sure you have a good understanding of what you’re walking into.

Some people accept a new job in a new organization or a new role in the same organization and don’t even know who their boss will be.  If at all possible try to find out who that person is, and talk with people who are free to speak (not being free to speak will in itself tell you something about the culture)  currently work for him/her, or who use to work for him/her and find out what their leadership style is,  which can let you know how you will be treated and led.

My heart is sad when I think of some whom I’ve coached who accepted jobs they thought were going to be perfect only to be blindsided and deeply hurt by a bad boss and/or an unhealthy culture. They were soon looking again.  Don’t let it happen to you!