Did you find that right manager yet? The owner of your company, John Blutarsky, tasked you, Daniel Simpson, to find a manager for your department. We discussed the Gallup Company, how a manager fits into strong workplaces and how you can identify one. In the end we suggested that John concentrate on building a strong workplace until you locate that manager.
To assist in your quest I’m including questions and ideas to ask your peers. You can also use them when you encounter a prospective manager yourself.
“Hold the phone Dave. Last week you told us the chances of locating a strong workplace manager who was willing to leave his company were low. Do you think a prospect who gives us positive answers would be willing to leave as well?”
The following are traits that you want in your manager. It’s entirely possible that a manager could score well in these traits yet work in a toxic environment. In that case the problems are more likely to be found with the company owner than your prospect. (I use a male example today for clarity).
Is he passionate? Passion is an indicator that he is driven by a higher purpose. You’ll be on the right track if that purpose is noble and exhibited consistently over a period of time. Think about it for a minute. A good manager is there to help unleash and engage your talents. He’s there to assist in your development and help to remove obstacles from your path. Wouldn’t you rather have a manager who is fueled by passion?
Is he a good communicator? Your skill, talent and spirit will wither in a vacuum. You need to know what the company expects, if you are effective, help in learning from your mistakes and ideas for improvement. And if the company is a conduit to help set your talents free, you need to know where the company is going, what it’s doing to get there and how it’s progressing.
Is he a student? What is he doing to improve himself? Old school techniques are fine if they’re working. But if your manager is trying to use telegraph services while the rest of the world is using telephones, you have a problem. Seriously, with your career on the line, how could you possibly entrust a manager who isn’t in passionate pursuit of education and personal development?
Is he a teacher? A good manager is always teaching. And if he isn’t on the same technical level as his coworkers, he facilitates a learning environment to make sure senior technicians and installers are sharing their technical expertise.
Ask him to describe his views on coworker’s mistakes. Most people will answer with, “we try and learn from our mistakes.” Duh! Press on. Ask him about formal processes and timeliness. You’re looking for more of a degree of sophistication than simply someone telling you that the company and its people learn from their mistakes.
Ask him to describe his company and department culture. While life at Delta Tau Chi was fun back in the day, man you loved the food fights, you’ve grown up. You’re still in pursuit of humor and fun, but now it weaves in and out of customer service, company growth and personal development. What is he doing to facilitate that healthy, invigorating and fun environment?
Does he care about his people? While most prospects will say of course they care about their coworkers, this might be true if you detect a positive and passionate voice inflection in their speech. You’ll get more accurate results here when talking to former coworkers.
Ask him to describe the ultimate service tech or installer. Quite simply, do you agree with his answer?
What qualities does he value in a company owner? A good company owner / manager relationship is much like the relationship that you’re in pursuit of with your own manager, with at least one exception. The owner establishes his company vision. You want your manager to be dialed into this vision. And to be sure, ask him how he and his department are striving to reach it.
What’s his idea of fun? As long as it isn’t illegal or immoral it doesn’t matter. What matters is if he is having fun outside of work in the first place.
Ask him to describe his strengths. You’re looking for traits that can best enhance your career development. It will be more difficult for a manager whose strengths are technical and not business and people-related. You should see evidence of this prospect making a huge effort to learn business and people skills. Otherwise it’d be like putting your career in Dean Vernon Wormer’s hands.
Here’s the deal D-Day, you and I both know that Dave here is living in a fairy tale. Bluto isn’t going to let you pick out your own manager anymore than he’s going to ever graduate from college. The other way to take advantage of this intel is to use it to screen prospective managers, owners and companies that you’d consider working for. Is that “Twisting the Night Away” playing on your record player?