I’ve had over six managers in my almost ten years of working full-time and have had some great bosses and some bosses that taught me a lot about the type of manager I wanted to become.
Your relationship with your boss can significantly impact your mental, emotional, and physical health, and they help determine your feeling of psychological safety in the workplace.
In this age where we often talk about toxicity in people/ourselves, the workplace, and are quick to name red flags, I wanted to share the fastest way I’ve been able to assess for green flags in a boss: pay attention to their behavioral cues.
Here are the bright green flags that have given me success.
They respect your space and time
- Respecting someone’s space can look different in a lot of ways. A good boss can be someone who encourages you to take PTO (and also models that behavior) without asking anything about what the time off will entail.
- They run effective meetings in a tight timeframe to not take more of your time. Agendas are fleshed out for every meeting. They recognize what needs to be moved offline and know when/how to move on.
- They know when to get out of your way. A good manager knows when they need to step in/provide more direction and feedback. But they also are aware of their part in the process and help remove themselves from becoming an obstacle in your timeline and on your project.
- They accept that time and workflows can look different on some days, and they are not interested in tracking you and your time. You’re an employee and human outside of work, not a minion to the team.
- They anticipate and check in on your workload, know how to say “no” or “not now” to teammates, and can shelve projects for later.
Servant leadership is where a leader’s goal is to serve those around them. This is a powerful green flag because it shows humbleness and character behind your manager, and a will to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
- A servant leader is there to support their direct reports, and doesn’t have a problem pitching in to help a team member with a project.
- They acknowledge that your success is the team’s success. They will not just say that they support you, but they will actively work with you to problem solve.
- They feel comfortable sharing power and value, and thus team members’ sense of morale, importance, and engagement is higher.
- They are not threatened by your ambition or growth. They don’t want you to just stay and do the role, they want to see you try new things, and are ok with failure.
- They are inclusive of diversity in thinking and style. They accept that their opinion is not always the right one, they check in with others, and know how to let go and let others lead.
Care for team/department/company culture
I find that these green flags can be more subtle and can also happen behind closed doors.
- They go to bat for you and for others. When you’ve put in a lot of work into something and it’s not being recognized or when you’ve been thrown under the bus, they’re in your corner advocating.
- They make sure to celebrate you/teammates personally and professionally. Whether it’s doing something for your birthday, a work anniversary, completion of a big work project, covering when they’re sick, it is so important to make sure that they are recognizing and valuing you as an individual.
- Standing up/voicing for the kind of company culture that they want/will tolerate. Many people want to make sure to conform to senior leaders and their expectations, but a good manager knows that they have a seat at the table in creating a workplace culture, and they will show people how they want to be treated/and what kind of behavior is unprofessional.
- A good manager cares what it’s like to work with team members at the peer level. On a cultural level, they will want to get a sense of how the working experience can be in order to get an honest and fair assessment of each team member.
There are several behavioral cues to look out for when scoping out the green flags of a manager. Your day-to-day relationship with your supervisor can make you feel drained each day or leave you feeling free and empowered. The only way I’ve found the right fit has been by tapping into my observational skills, listening to my intuition, and paying attention to their behavior and how others experience them.
These are just a few of my overarching themes that I’ve grouped together as my green flags (also got help from friends: TY Lauren, Ilyssa and Kelsey!)
What do you think are the green flags in a manager? I’d love to hear what you’ve seen, experienced, and learned from your life or even from others!