“Home is where the heart is.”
“It’s not where you are, it’s who you are with.”
When it comes to home and family it’s all about who you surround yourself with but somehow we lose that same sentiment when it comes to work. When it comes to work the questions become…
Where do you work?
What is your title?
How much do you make?!
But the question we should really be asking is, “Who do you work with?” The WHO matters more than anything else.
Does this person inspire you?
Do they push you to be better?
Do you learn from them?
Do they give you opportunities to learn and grow in your profession?
Do they advocate for your needs and wants regardless of how it affects them?
I have many friends who, on paper, look like they are living their best life. They work at the fancy Fortune 500 companies in New York City. They go to parties and rub elbows with celebrities at their “after work” happy hours. They have a fancy title, the corner office, and the big check but they are… ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE. You heard me. When we’re alone, having drinks and no one can hear them boy oh boy do they complain. Their boss is awful, the company culture is horrible, they are not given opportunities to learn or grow, and they feel stagnant and unmotivated. From the outside looking in it looks like a bed of roses but from the inside they are sitting on nothing but thorns.
When it comes to work, picking your boss, picking the culture that you’re going to be a part of, picking the type of lifestyle you want to live is the new version of the corner office.
I’ve always said, I don’t care what title you give me if I’m working for a dream mentor or dream boss I’ll sign on the dotted line. Because it’s not about your title, it’s about what you’re learning from this person. It’s about how you can take that learning with you moving forward skipping years of trial and error that you would have spent trying to figure it out on your own.
By absorbing the lessons they’re offering you’re getting a rare chance to skip the line when it comes to career lessons. Happily prancing away you’ll look back over your shoulder at friends who have unsupportive work environments where they spend time fending for themselves and not learning new skills.
The next time you’re in a job interview skip the questions about your title, office location and bonus structure (although I know those are important too – trust!) and instead make sure to ask:
Who will I be reporting to and working under?
Who will I be on a team with and will I get the opportunity to meet with them during the interview process?
What learning opportunities are utilized by others on this team?
These are the questions that everyone seems to miss but that will have the biggest impact as you move forward in your career.
I bet you can think of a few friends right this second who forgot to ask these questions. They are stuck under a verbally abusive boss who belittles them, who makes them work late, who doesn’t give them opportunities to speak up and isn’t supportive of their continued education. Let’s let them in on the secret, shall we? Forward this to them. But more importantly talk about this with them. The only way we hold ourselves accountable is to be honest with each other.
I see you and I see you with that terrible boss. Let’s find you a better place.
And this time, let’s have you choose your boss, not your job.