What do most people mention as the number one reason why they are unhappy in their job or leave their position? Their boss. Yet how many of us consider this when looking for a job? How can you find out about your supervisor before accepting a position?
This article comes from an issue of Workamper News magazine. COPYRIGHT by Workamper News. IT IS A VIOLATION OF U.S. COPYRIGHT LAW TO PUBLISH, POST, BROADCAST OR PHOTOCOPY ANY PORTION OF THIS PUBLICATION.
by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Know What You Want
What type of supervisor do you work best with?
- Active manager or not personally involved
- Business-like or jovial
- People-oriented or task-oriented
- Hands on (will jump in and do the same tasks) or delegates all
- Detail-oriented with precise standards or focused on overall goals like customer satisfaction
Good managers are clear about what they want and communicate that to their employees. They provide support and feedback and treat employees fairly and consistently. At the same time, they can differ in personality and management style.
Do research prior to your interview. Online reviews can give you an idea of what it is like there and how satisfied customers are. Poor ratings overall could very well indicate a management problem.
Use the Workamper network. The Workamper Experiences tool at Workamper.com (available to Diamond & Platinum members) has been compiling reviews of specific Employers since 2007. Workampers can search a company name or location to see if there are any existing posts, and if not, create a new entry requesting information. For Workampers reviewing help wanted ads in our Hotline system or magazine, you’ll see a link or indicator with an ad so you’ll know right away if there are existing reviews.
Take reviews and ratings with a grain of salt, however. Just as managers have different styles, Workampers have different preferences; a good manager in one Workamper’s eyes may be awful in another’s.
The Praise Your Employer (PYE) tool is another way to connect with Workampers who have worked for a specific Employer (available to Diamond & Platinum members). In this tool, Workampers have awarded a star to Employers they had a positive experience with. Find the Employer in PYE and then click on the star awards. If the Workamper okayed it, you will see the email address of the Workamper who awarded the star and you can contact them.
One more way to connect with Workampers who are or did work for a specific Employer is by using the Member Map (available to Diamond & Platinum members). Find the physical location of the Workamping opportunity you are researching on the map, and then contact any Workampers who are there to see if they happen to be working for that Employer.
When contacting a Workamper directly, ask who the manager was they worked for. A different manager is a whole new ball game.
You’ll get more useful and objective information if you ask specific questions related to your needs. Examples are:
- How far in advance did you know the work schedule for the week?
- How often was the owner/manager there? Did he/she delegate or do the same tasks?
- Were employees treated fairly and equally? Were they given regular feedback about how they were doing? How were problems handled?
- Was the manager flexible if an employee had special needs or circumstances?
When talking to other workers or the employer before the interview, besides finding out specifics of the job, pay attention to what they say that could indicate the atmosphere. Was the person who answered the phone helpful or curt? Was the employer willing to provide enough information? Can you talk to another Workamper?
In addition to all the other things you need to find out about the job itself and your RV site, prepare questions for your prospective supervisor. Ask about leadership style. How are things communicated if it is a large operation? What is the chain of command? Pay attention to tone changes or hesitations. If you aren’t interviewing with your supervisor, request to speak to that person as well, to get a feel for his/her personality.
If a situation developed with a previous employer that you’d like to avoid, provide a brief scenario and ask how it would be handled here if something similar came up. (Don’t badmouth a former Employer in doing so.)
Three things would make me leery about working for a manager:
- Unwillingness to talk about the job and answer your questions. A Workamper can spend a lot of time and money getting to a job. It is important that it be a match. On your part, you should know what you want and have focused questions and not waste a manager’s time.
- Lack of a job description. If the manager does not have a clear picture of what you are supposed to do, he/she may run his/her business the same way or have no clearer idea when you show up.
- Unwillingness to provide or sign a written work agreement. This usually goes with along with the first two; if one and two haven’t happened, you can’t get a good written agreement.
Finding a job is similar to a courtship in that Employer and potential employee are checking each other out to see if this is “the one.” At that time both are generally on their best behavior. If you have any misgivings during this “courtship” period, listen to your intuition; don’t make excuses. Poor behavior now (on either side) will likely get worse over time. The more times you talk to the Employer the more likely you’ll get a true picture of his personality.
And finally, remember that it is you who are choosing this employer and you will be the one spending several days each month working for this person, not the people you talked to. The information you obtained in your research is how others saw this person. Your supervisor should be a fit for you. You’ll be much more likely to have a great season.
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