Is He or She the “Right Supervisor?” – Angles Exist Everywhere

Have you ever looked at something, arrived at a conclusion or perspective, and then shifted your position to get a different angle and arrive at a completely different conclusion / perspective? I sure have! Whether it’s a physical object I’m looking at or an idea I’m contemplating, when I can get a different view of it, I inevitably see the object / idea more clearly and fully. 

I’d submit that working through a process to determine if the person you’re considering working for as a direct supervisor is no different. We’ve covered three perspectives in that process to consider so far:   

  1. How does the supervisor relate to and align with the organizational mission and values? 
  1. What questions could you ask the supervisor to find out more about who he / she really is? 
  1. Talking to peers and other direct reports of the supervisor as a means to yield useful information. 

Utilize Your Network

The fourth perspective I’d suggest you include in this process is the valuable network you’ve been developing along the way with your job transition. As you’ve probably discovered, there are only 6 degrees of separation from almost everyone in the world, so to delve into what information might come out from your network is worth some of your time. 

Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” Proverbs 24:6 highlights, “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisors.”  

I’m not trying to say a job transition is akin to waging war (although it may feel like that at times), but I am hoping you’ll see the need for guidance and “many advisors.” Odds are quite high that no one person in your network has a complete perspective on your potential supervisor – instead, multiple people probably have angles to share with you. I’d take them all in to see what picture may be painted for you. 

Potential Questions

I don’t have a long list of specific questions for you to ask your network. Instead, here are a few general questions that could start a conversation: 

  1. Who might know something about your potential supervisor? 
  1. What do they think could be worthwhile to share with you about him / her? 
  1. How did they come to have this information / perspective?  Friend? Former colleague? Neighbor? Hearsay? 
  1. How fresh is this information? Weeks? Months? Years? Not sure? 

Use Discretion

As you can probably guess, depending on the source and timing of the information your network may provide, you need to take it with a grain of salt. You may choose to disregard it as not reliable. You certainly don’t want to make a decision based on hearsay, gossip, or rumor. But if you get bits and pieces of information that seem to raise some concerning questions, I’d heed your feelings and work to seek out a more complete picture.   

Ideally, you’ve been gathering information from your network along the way, so there wouldn’t be any surprises, but if you need to go back to the first 3 perspectives in the process to settle out something you’ve heard from your network, it’s well worth your time to do so. Remember, your network has no bias in your overall process, so you can have a good bit of reliability stemming from it. Take advantage of it! 

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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