If you ever left a job you expected to love, or endured hating it, these words likely ring true for you:
Leaving jobs is painful and expensive. You can learn about future managers in your interview, but few people do.
If you don't know better, you'll choose jobs based on what the company does, your title, your pay, the company's growth, and other things that don't affect your daily experience. In other words, "good projects."
What affects your daily experience?
Your manager more than anything else, for most people. Or the firm's management in general.
A manager who doesn't understand you, challenge you, give you responsibility and ownership of projects, and otherwise support you will destroy the value of almost anything else you like at your job.
People leave what they consider "bad management." The manager may be competent or even outstanding but may not match your style. Same result for you.
How to use "People join good projects and leave bad management."
The most valuable way to apply this phrase is your interviews, typically when you first encounter the management.
Take advantage of the interaction to learn about the management. Specifically, your future manager.
What should you ask?
Think of every manager you couldn't stand and who made you want to leave a great project. As I say in the video above, I'm writing this post because a manager just annoyed me and important issues are on my mind.
Ask questions about the issues you'd leave a good project over.
Did a past manager not support you? Ask the interviewer if your manager-to-be supports the staff. If the manager is interviewing you, ask him or her how this support is given.
Did a past manager not challenge you? Ask the interview how your manager-to-be challenges staff.
Was a past manager never available for you? Ask!
Get the picture? Ask about what you care about.
Is asking these questions too risky?
Clients I advise to ask such questions often wonder whether the questions are too risky. "Shouldn't I get the job first, and then find those things out?"
Not asking them is riskier!
First, I suggest that risking hating a job is greater.
Second, I suggest they try it in an interview for a job they don't care about and pay attention to the interviewer's reaction.
The reaction is always to take the client more seriously and to ask what can be done to make things work better. I'm waiting for some time when a client gets a bad reaction so I can point out the value of knowing not to take a job he or she will hate.
But the questions keep working instead.
They show you care, you're experienced, and you're comfortable. They get the interviewer talking and sharing too.
When should I ask?
For most, the challenge isn't what to ask but creating a context in which asking feels comfortable.
First, adopt the perspective that you want to find out if you'll like the job, not that you're desperate. With a discerning perspective, you'll find opportunities throughout the interview.
Next, most interviewers give you the chance.
They ask: "Do you have any questions for us?"
Most try to show off what they know about the company, missing that they're presenting themselves like everyone else. Acting like a commodity leads the company to buy you for the lowest price it can.
That's your time to ask. You can. You don't have to take my word for it. Try it yourself. Schedule a throw-away informational interview and do it.
You'll be amazed at the results.
And you may never feel compelled to leave the management of a position or company you hate.