To Find Greater Satisfaction at Work, Select the Right Boss!

de | 18 décembre 2016

To Find Greater Satisfaction at Work, Select the Right Boss!

When you are thinking about a new position, there are a number of criteria you need to evaluate before making your next move, such as the match between the job requirements and your qualifications, working conditions, advancement possibilities, salary, job security and distance from your home.

Unfortunately often neglected in these considerations is a serious reflection on what kind of boss you prefer, even though he or she will be all-important in determining your satisfaction with your next employment.

The Critical Role of Your Boss

Managers and team leaders significantly influence employees’ engagement, productivity and wellbeing (1).

A Dale Carnegie study (2) revealed that 80% of workers who are dissatisfied with their direct supervisor are disengaged and demotivated.

A large-scale global survey (3) involving over 200’000 people showed that having a great relationship with the boss is among the top 4 in a list of 26 job preferences. Salary and bonus figure only in 8th place.

75% of employees leave their job because of their frustration and difficulties with their immediate superior. A Gallup study revealed that 89% of employers believe that workers leave their company for more money, while in reality only 12% do so (4). People don’t leave an organization, they leave their boss!

« On average, spending time with your boss is consistently rated as the least pleasurable activity in a given day.

Tom Rath, Gallup researcher and American author

Profile of the Ideal Boss

While each candidate needs to determine the profile of his or her preferred superior, it is nevertheless possible, based on research findings (e.g. 5, 6), to identify some of the most common traits that characterize an ideal boss:

Integrity: Honest, ethical, trustworthy, transparent, fair and even-handed, consistent and dependable

Humility: While direct and straight forward, stays humble and modest, owns up to errors, considerate, gives credit to the team

Communication: Keeps employees informed, active listener, open to dialogue, provides guidelines, as well as regular and honest feedback

Motivation: Seeks win-win solutions, makes you feel useful, encourages collaboration, honors work-life balance

Expectations: Has a clear vision and a strategy for what needs to be accomplished, defines principles, objectives and priorities

Recognition: Appreciates your value and praises your contributions, respectful, compassionate, patient

Trust: Delegates important projects, favors autonomy over micromanagement, flexible regarding work organization

A Coach: A person from whom you can learn, who helps you develop

A Model: Walks-the-talk, does what he says, passionate, inspires, positive mind-set, confident, open to change

Empowerment: Perceives your potentials, is interested in your success and well-being, fosters your growth, builds on the person’s unique strengths and finds the right fit for each worker’s activities (7, 8).

Contrast this list with those of horrible bosses, toxic managers, or managers from hell (e.g. 9, 10). Such managers can make your life miserable, they are stressful and stifle all joy at work and are totally demotivating.

Even if it is highly unlikely that you will find a superior with all the traits of your “dream boss”, it is nevertheless important to be clear in your mind which characteristics are critical for you and would enable you to be productive and have a pleasant work experience.

How Can You Find Your Ideal Boss

During your job search, using your profile of the ideal boss as a guide, you can start by looking at job offers for first clues on management, job organization, working conditions, requirements and responsibilities.

Checking the company’s website and articles in the press, as well as social media, might provide further indications on their style of management and leadership.

If you are invited for a job interview, you will have an opportunity to more directly observe the managers’ approach and behavior:

–the time allotted for the interview and the seriousness of the whole process, as well as the professional demeanor of the interviewers

–the presentation of the company, their organization and examples of their style of management, what they emphasize

–the type of questions they ask, what they focus on

their communication style, their listening and attention to your input, their emotional intelligence, their personal interest in you

–their non-verbal behavior: facial expression, smile, eye contact, gestures, voice and body posture

Their responses to direct questions you could ask about their style of management will likely be most revealing. You might ask these as part of concrete situations you have experienced or in the form of hypothetical cases.

It is critical, of course, that you be able to talk to the person who would be your immediate supervisor, not only to some HR delegate, even if that means that you have to ask for another interview.

Given the high stakes involved, it seems only natural and fair that you be given an opportunity to meet your future boss before accepting a possible offer. Why should it be a one-sided venture where companies explore candidates’ strengths and weaknesses whereas job seekers are unable to acquire sufficient knowledge about their potential future employment, especially with respect to their immediate superior? Besides, looking for an optimal match is definitely in the mutual interests of both employers and candidates.

In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.

Ken Blanchard, American author


  1. When searching for a new position, it is essential to include in your considerations the type of boss you would like to work with. Neglecting to do so is often at the price of subsequent disappointments, ensuing frustrations and stress and having to resign and to look again for a new position.
  2. Overwhelming empirical evidence has clearly established that the employees’ motivation, productivity and wellbeing are largely determined by the management style of their immediate superiors.
  3. Establishing your own profile of your ideal superior can serve as a guideline in your explorations during your next job search. It is noteworthy that a number of studies have revealed many common characteristics of the ideal boss across different industrial sectors and types of organizations.
  4. Studying the company’s job offer, their website, press articles and social media may reveal first clues. Fully exploiting job interviews, however, present the best opportunity to discover the management and leadership style of your potential future manager.
  5. Enjoying a good relationship with your manager is essential for finding pleasure, motivation and satisfaction in the workplace and for wanting to stay on in a company.



Marcel Lucien Goldschmid, PhD, Director of MTC

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