If you’re in the market for a new job and you are lucky enough to have multiple offers, or you’re in a position where you can afford to wait for the right opportunity, you don’t have to pay the asshole tax. On this episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim, Jason and Amy talk about how to suss out whether your potential new boss is going to help you move toward the direction of your dreams or get in your way. Listen now to the last episode of 2021 to learn how to find a Radically Candid boss.
Listen to the episode:
How to Choose a Radically Candid Boss: Episode at a Glance
Kim’s been getting a lot of questions from people about how to choose a new job and noted that one of the most important things you can do is to choose your boss wisely.
One of the first steps to avoiding a bad boss is knowing what you’re looking for in a boss.
Think about things like, how much autonomy you want in the job? Do you want a boss who’s going to be a mentor? Is this someone you could imagine going to with problems?
“First of all, trust your gut. That’s far more important than any list of criteria from me or anyone else. If you are not dying to work for this person, don’t take the job,” Kim advises. “If you’re not sure what you think of them, start by making a list of pros and cons. Keep wrestling with it until you get to what is for you the determinative factor. For me, it’s can this person help me take a step in the direction of my dreams, or will they trip me up?”
Can this person help me take a step in the direction of my dreams, or will they trip me up?” — Kim Scott
You want a boss who is respectful of the people who work for them, not a boss who tries to lord power over their employees or who thinks the job is a value judgment rather than a responsibility they’ll be held accountable for. Ask your potential new boss:
- What is your management philosophy?
- A lot of bosses won’t be able to articulate exactly what a boss does. “It took me a long time to do it when I was writing Radical Candor — bosses get feedback from and give feedback to teams to achieve results,” Kim says. “But you want them to have some idea of what their responsibilities as a boss are.”
- Dig into the details here. If someone says something that sounds buzzwordy or that you’re not sure what it means, ask them for a specific example of what they mean.
- Beware of absentee and micromanaging philosophies.
- You want a boss who solicits feedback and then responds well to it — who has a growth mindset.
- Ask your prospective boss about a failure. Who told them they were failing, and what did they learn from the experience? If they tell you about a time when one of their employees told them they were screwing up and they responded well, that’s a really good sign
- Ask your prospective boss how they like to receive feedback. (Your real question is, will you take feedback if I give it to you)
- Try giving your prospective boss feedback about something you observed during the interview process, and notice how they respond.
If you are worried about the broader culture, make sure you’re working for a shit umbrella, not a shit funnel.” — Kim Scott
Once you have an offer and know who your boss is going to be, talk to other people who have worked for them. You better believe that your new employer is doing backdoor reference checks on you. Do some backdoor reference checks on your boss. If people were miserable working for that person, don’t take the job. You’ll soon be miserable too.
“It’s true that your boss’s boss can have a huge impact on how your boss behaves. But I’ve worked for some people who are incredible shit umbrellas — who shielded me from toxicity they were experiencing,” Kim says. “Others, however, are like shit funnels… If you are worried about the broader culture, make sure you’re working for a shit umbrella and not a shit funnel.”
Radical Candor Podcast Checklist
- Think about what matters to you in a boss. Pay attention to how the manager treats you throughout the interview process. Trust your gut.
- Ask the manager specific questions about how they intend to manage you.
- Research the manager online, and if possible find former employees and ask for their honest perspective about working for the manager.
Radical Candor Podcast Resources
- U.S. News & World Report, Money: How to Avoid Working for a Bad Boss
- Top Resume: 13 Great Interview Questions to Ask a Hiring Manager
- Harvard Business Review: How to Spot a Bad Boss During an Interview
- LinkedIn: Choose Your Boss, Not Your Job
- Radically Candid Conversations — Kim Scott & Trier Bryant Talk Bias, Prejudice & Bullying In the Workplace
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The Radical Candor Podcast theme music was composed by Cliff Goldmacher. Order his book: The Reason For The Rhymes: Mastering the Seven Essential Skills of Innovation by Learning to Write Songs.