Just been reading an article which considered two “fit” factors for prospective employees: how well do you fit the organization AND how well do you fit your supervisor. The article suggested that these two factors are rarely considered together, but that there was good reason to do so. Did provoke some thoughts…

The world of work has changed a great deal in the past twenty years, so the dynamics around these two fit factors have changed. Once upon a time, you would have been seeing the organization as your long-term employer, and any particular supervisor as your manager for the time being. Now you are more likely to view the organization as a positive (or negative) brand which will rub off on your CV, and the supervisor you go to work for now, may well be the only one you ever work for at this organization. (The time spent under this supervisor may still be as long as it would have been under the earlier dynamic; in a more portfolio-oriented career world, it is the length of time likely to be spent at the organization which has changed.)

Does this matter? Well, it does suggest that finding a good fit with your prospective supervisor (or, once you are on board, gravitating to the right supervisor) is more critical than ever to your success or failure within any given role. There is less tolerance for a bad mismatch, both on your part AND on the part of FUTURE prospective employers (the latter are more understanding of relatively short tenure in role PROVIDED they can see tangible positive outcomes); in other words, don’t think that you can just weather a bad fit until one of you gets moved.

So – while your prospective supervisor is interviewing you, it might be a good idea to interview them as well (and apart from anything else, asking some intelligent questions at this point about what you can expect help demonstrate you aren’t just an unhatched egg on the conveyor belt of life. Note I say “intelligent”, not “clever”…).

Using your hoozyu report, you can get a bit of a head start. (I am assuming you have already done your homework around motivation – does this role have the potential to engage you powerfully?)

Look at your Lifestyle Grid, Page 6 (i.e. the one marked “Page 6”, which is actually the 7th page of the LSG section.) What does this page tell you that you need from your work environment? These are qualities you are looking from in a “good-fit” supervisor. I am not suggesting you ask “do you give individual support” or “are you pleasant and matter of fact” (to quote a couple of descriptors from page 6). You could however ask (for example) something like “can you tell me how our working relationship will be structured?” You are asking “will I get regular face time with you?” (a Blue and Green Need), and if so what will that be like – individual support being the Blue Need version of that and individual feedback the Green one. Or will we have a 10 minute stand-up team meeting every Monday morning, and a team drink after work on Friday (pretty good for a Red); or will you set out for me in great detail your expectations and then consistently and fairly hold me to those (comfortable for a Yellow)?

Focus on the Needs you have already identified as personally important to you. The LSG is a broad-brushstrokes summary, so there are probably some Need descriptors that are less accurate than others: focus on the ones that fit. If you have upgraded to the Preview version of Birkman, then you will have more detailed understanding of your Needs, but you can glean plenty from the LSG to be going on with.

One last thought – something I always say to interviewers holds true for you as well (since you are becoming an interviewer on your own account). Try to ask questions that ask for a concrete example (e.g. “can you describe the structure of your weekly working relationship with someone else who does or did the job I will be doing” and then listen like mad for concrete examples. If you get concrete examples straight away, then believe whatever they tell you (which may or may not indicate a good fit for you); but if you get a lot of waffle about “yes, I always say that how you structure your working relationship is very important…” I would forget it: they probably don’t work in a very structured manner, and as such are probably not a manager by nature; unless you can see they have fantastic domain expertise and a willingness to mentor you, I would move on to your next prospect.