When offered a new job, there are many things to consider: where the job is, how much you will earn, the reputation of the company, and your benefits. But one thing that is often overlooked is who your manager will be. Finding a strong, thoughtful, and caring manager is more important than finding the perfect job – or other benefits you might consider important at first glance.

You’ve probably done it – much like I have: scanned over job requirements and descriptions to find a role that aligns perfectly with your skills and ambition. You click “apply” and feel a sense of excitement about the role and the work.

But how much time have you given to who your boss will be? What do you know about this person? What is their reputation?

I have had many different types of managers – loud, introverted, passive, smart, fun, unkind – and know that a good boss is akin to a good teacher: they can change your life.

I want to share a story about how good management helped me and why you should think more critically about your potential manager before joining a company.

I work in technology as a product manager and need to build complex projects with different stakeholders – engineers, lawyers, coders, and designers. On a recent project, building an Android MDM, I had to manage a team over 12 people. I know the importance of having good management so took time to coach, lead, and inspire those on the team. But another product manager, one with less empathy, drove his team to the same outcomes but made people feel badly about their work – and themselves – in the process.

When people joined this product organization they were randomly assigned to a manager. The work would be similar as would the responsibilities and work-life balance. But some people had a manager who cared about them and the others had a dismissive manager who lacked empathy and compassion. Guess which team had better results? Better retention? You guessed correctly: the team with the caring manager.

If you are considering a job offer you should ask the following questions to the hiring manager. How many people are on your team? How long have these people been on the team? May I please speak with them? 

A dear friend recently started working from home in a new role at a new company. Her management team told her on Day 1: “you will only learn by doing.”

I have thought a lot about this advice. I wonder if learning by doing is the best or only way to master new concepts. In an era in which more jobs are remote, we need to think through how we welcome new colleagues and onboard them. You need to understand your future manager by asking specific questions that test aptitude.

  • Does the boss ask others for input and allow others to make some decisions for themselves?
  • Do you feel inspired to take action or find something out after being around them?
  • Does the boss seem willing to share a reasonable amount of personal information to empathize with you in a warm way?

A great way to onboard staff is to have management that cares and can teach new employees the ropes.

Training staff is about inclusivity. It is about managers who care.

Good management is about making people feel welcome. And most importantly, it’s about giving newcomers a sense of perspective and sense of empowerment.

So here is my 2021 challenge to you: dig deeper when you are going to start a new job. Evaluate your manager the way that they evaluate you. When you submit job inquiries or lead generation forms expressing your interest to work for a company, the firm is evaluating you. Now is the time to turn that logic on its head a bit.

Asking questions of your future manager will reduce your anxiety and set you up for success.

Ask questions, probe deeper, and explore. By doing this you can ensure you have a better experience and a stronger career foundation. That is advice worth striving for.