If you’ve worked for the same company in Corporate America for more than four or five years, chances are that you have had more than one job in that company. Sometimes you even have the opportunity to make a decision whether or not to accept those new jobs.
During my corporate career I was lucky in that most of the jobs I chose were indeed a good choice, but there are a couple that stand out – because they were the wrong choice. The first of these happened about 10 years into my career. A new organization was being formed, and the management team asked for volunteers. The job was exciting.
It seemed like a good idea.
During the interview I realized that the new manager of this team and I would not see eye to eye. He was from a field organization and knew nothing about a lab environment. I could see that he wanted to be very hands on – not a quality I preferred in my managers. But I was sure he’d soon recognize my value and let me have some autonomy.
I was wrong.
I took the job … and I was miserable. I couldn’t wait to move on, but I learned a valuable lesson. I vowed never to take another job where I didn’t think I could successfully work for the direct manager of the team.
We can’t always pick our jobs or our bosses, but when I could, I made sure to interview the manager at the same time as they interviewed me. I did my own research on the manager – checking with prior employees and asking questions before accepting a job. This strategy worked well – until two decades later. I forgot my own advice and quickly accepted a new job.
I actively pursued this job. It was a job that appeared to be tailor made for me, and in an organization that I considered ‘home’. I asked questions about the manager after I accepted the job – and I got an earful. People who had worked with my new manager had a lot to say – none of it positive. I reasoned that it couldn’t possibly be that bad. It might be a challenge, but I could handle it.
I was wrong. Again.
So what did I learn? Never ever take a job where you don’t think you can successfully work with your immediate manager. Never. Ever.
What was the job you shouldn’t have accepted? And why was it the wrong choice for you?