Candidates looking for jobs in 2018 are accustomed to the company research process, which often relies heavily on looking into a business’s reputation. The standing that an organization holds both publicly and among its employees can be quite illuminating to those deciding whether or not to apply for a job with the company. Almost every candidate that I speak with tells me that they look on sites like Glassdoor, conduct research on the company, and talk to informed people for a glimpse into the potential experience. There is no doubt that this process is valuable, but I believe that individuals put too much emphasis on it.
Have you ever spoken to two different people at the same company who express completely different opinions about the experience? One says “I love it!”, and the other says, “Help! Get me out.” If you really peel back the layers, and explore why they have such contrasting experiences, it always comes down to the same thing, which is their boss.
There was a company that I previously worked at, and the experience I had was quite similar. I was employed at an organization selling packaging products in the suburbs. There was nothing super exciting about the products, and the commute was a bit taxing as it took me an hour in each direction (sometimes more with traffic). However, I truly loved every minute working there because my boss was amazing. My happiness wasn’t derived from the particular company, and I know if I had a different boss, my experience would’ve been very different. Simply put, he had my back.
When I closed a big deal, he would always tell me that he was proud of me, which always made me feel good and even more eager to work. Over the course of 4 years we got into one disagreement. The difference of opinion resulted in him saying “OK, we’ll agree to disagree. I’m starving. Can I take you to lunch?”. This proved to me that he truly cared about my thoughts, as he allowed me to express a different opinion than his and continued to support me despite our disagreement. Although it’s been close to 10 years since I reported to him, we still keep in touch on a monthly basis.
Company leadership can be both inspiring and toxic, always trickling down to all levels of an organization. Many companies are so focused on culture that they overlook the importance of good management and the hiring of great bosses. These companies prioritize things such as having a “cool” office with ping pong tables and happy hours, or premiere office locations. A lot of time and money is then invested into these things instead of focusing on the importance of hiring great bosses that are able to motivate team members and inspire better performance.
The lesson here is that ultimately you work for people, and not companies. The people are the ones that affect your day to day experience, and either inspire you to do great work or leave you feeling unmotivated and jaded. At the end of the day, I’d much rather work for a “C” company with an “A” boss than an “A” company with a “C” boss. A boss is going to provide coaching, make you better at your profession, and always support you. A company can’t do those things for you.