Dec. 30, 2022

What To Look For In A Manager

While working towards Financial Independence, it helps to work in a meaningful job. I’ve often heard the refrain that “People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses.” Having a good manager is important to job satisfaction.

Past Experience

When I graduated college and entered the work force, I had a great manager. We’ll call him Henry.

We worked for a large organization with over 150,000 employees. Our team and location was new, with several recent college grads and a relatively young team.

Henry was not far from my own father’s age, and had a fatherly presence. Many meetings he would teach us in a way we didn’t know we were being taught. He would use entertaining stories from his past experience and end with a moral. These stories stick vividly with me. Some involved him standing up for a fellow employee.

We would leave meetings with a sense of admiration and deep respect for the man leading our team. Many coworkers on the same floor often commented they wish Henry was their manager.

He was very transparent with the team and we all felt comfortable voicing our opinions and thoughts, and joking around a bit.

Compensating For Others Maturity

While I was on a two year service mission, I was assigned to a companion I was with 24/7. We worked, studied, and taught together. Many of my companions were not very committed to the mission rules, which made me uncomfortable. I was very dedicated to the expectations placed on me, but for the first year and a half, I was often assigned a companion with somewhat different values.

When I finally got a companion as dedicated to the rules as I was, I was able to loosen up. This companion reported to the mission president that I was goofy. For over a year my mission president had only heard how serious I was. I felt like I had to be serious because my companions weren’t. I had to compensate because I didn’t necessarily trust them 100%. Don’t get me wrong, most were great people, but some were slackers to some degree.

My point is that when my companion and I were on the same page, I was free to be myself. I didn’t have to shoulder the burden of compliance alone.

What Makes A Good Manager

My two best managers seem to have a lot of sympathy and empathy. They are willing to go to bat for their people, and understand life is complicated. Good managers are sometimes willing to bend rigid corporate rules for the good of their team.

Do your best to stay on your boss’ good side, they determine much of your day to day job satisfaction.

I recently got a common cold (Rhinovirus, not Covid-19). I could feel myself getting ill on February 21st, and slept as much as I could over the weekend. Despite feeling well Monday, I was left with a lingering cough. The cough got so bad I was unable to sleep large portions of the night, and therefore unable to work.

This was quite stressful as I’m relatively new at my current company and have almost no vacation saved up. My boss allowed me to work from home as I could, but mostly encouraged to take all the time I need to rest, and not concern myself with my lack of vacation.

I ended up not coming in at all that week, and I was asked to work a little extra over the next few weeks to make up for a lack of vacation. I was perfectly happy to do so, it was more than fair to me.

Treat People How You Want Them To Act

Generally speaking, most people rise to the expectations placed on them, or near to it.

If you treat people like adults, they act like adults. Treat adults like children and they may very well act like children. Children push boundaries.

When I feel like I need to look over my shoulder, that I’m not trusted or being babysat, I’m on the defensive.

Alternatively, when my boss treats me like an adult and trusts me to do my job, I generally feel a desire to do well for them, for the company.

When I worked for Henry, he made it clear that his job was mainly to enable us to do our jobs as effectively as possible. He did a notably good job for the team, and the team wanted to do a good job for him in return.


Finding a good manager can be difficult. Sometimes a difficult manager can be a matter of perception, and finding a different way to connect or get to know them can pay dividends.

I’ve learned a bit about connecting with managers from podcasts like this one. There are plenty of books, blog posts and podcasts out there. Additionally job hopping is more common than ever and I get recruiters coming after me all the time. Having a Monster or LinkedIn profile can open a lot of doors.