I recently attended an interview with Aly Raisman, Olympic gymnast and multiple gold medal winner. As Raisman talked about her overwhelming love for her sport, the lady next to me leaned over and said, "I wish I loved anything that much."
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She is certainly not alone in that feeling. There is a reason why many of us hold athletes up as heroes. They represent a drive and determination that few of us feel we possess.
In the days following the interview, I found myself watching videos of Raisman and her US teammates at the Rio Olympics. This was her comeback. At 22, she was considered old for the sport. However, her dedication – along with the support of her coaches – helped her prove that she only got better with age.
As I watched more videos, I became fascinated with the relationship between the coaches and the gymnasts. It was then that I realized we should all be looking for coaches rather than bosses in our job searches.
Mentors have long been touted as must-haves for professionals who want to reach their career goals. What if your boss took on the responsibility of being that mentor? Would teams be more satisfied and productive if that were the case? I think so – and I think many of us would feel more driven, dedicated, and in love with our work if we felt we had someone in our corner, pushing us to be our best.
It is hard to find a good boss, though. Many of us think a good boss is one that leaves us alone, letting us do our work our way. Such a managerial approach comes with certain benefits, but all the people I know who have made huge strides in their careers have one thing in common: They all had a boss who took them under their wing and took an interest in their professional growth. As a result, these professionals' levels of job satisfaction skyrocketed. Over time, they developed real love for their work.
How Do You Find a Good Boss?
Sure, you'll want to ask potential bosses about their management styles, but you also want to do your research. Try to find the person who previously held the role for which you are applying. What are they doing now? Can you ask them about their experience working at the company?
You can also ask your potential teammates about the boss's management style, but that will only go so far. Try asking your possible colleagues, "What are your top three favorite things about working for this boss?" You can tell a lot from their answers, but also from how they react to the question – including how long it takes them to respond.
Finally, there is nothing wrong with letting a potential boss know that, while you're looking forward to the role and working for the company, you also want to work for someone who takes a real interest in developing talent. Then, ask for some examples of how the boss has made sure employees are engaged in their work and given the chance to grow.
Your career is your own Olympic journey, in a way. With a lot of hard work, dedication, and support, you just might get a medal, too. So the next time you're looking for a new job, look for a good boss instead of just a good role.
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing's resident career expert.
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