Who Do You Work For?

Who do you work for?” seems like an obvious question, after all you work for Company X or yourself, but is that really the answer? I recently read an interesting blog post from Mike Fal b | t who recently started a new job and talked about the things he finds important when selecting a position. After reading his post, I thought about a comment I heard about working which has stayed in my head ever since.

You work for your Immediate Manager

bossA few jobs ago, I was working for a company which was purchased by another company. Changes were coming, but they hadn’t happened, yet. I was working for Tyler, who was soon not going to be my manager. He knew I was not going to be working for him soon, and at that time I didn’t know I would be getting a new manager. We had a conversation about the upcoming changes where Tyler told me  you really don’t work for Company X, you work for your immediate boss. He’s right. After all working for a company is one thing, but where the rubber meets the road is when someone directs what you do during the day. The ability to make your life miserable or make you happy to come to work comes from your supervisor, not from the company. One person’s input is a lot smaller picture than Company X, more immediate, and more intense. When Tyler was not my manager, I realized how right he was. I didn’t think much of the new manager and left.

How do you Determine Where to Work?

Because people are such a large part of the working environment, a change in management is a big deal in determining if you want to stay or not. It also explains why two people who work for Company X may have two different perspectives, especially if it is a large company. A friend of mine quit Company Z, which is a large company that continually has very high marks for what a great company it is. Employee surveys continually rank it near the top of several Best Company’s for Employees to Work lists. He quit because he didn’t like his manager. He thought a number of people we knew in common were great, but that couldn’t overcome his bad manager.

Weighing the Criteria

When management is not a consideration, then the criteria change from people to tasks. Quality of work, ability to learn and apply new skills, career advancement, monetary compensation, working environment, scheduling are important considerations. Since rarely is one able to really determine the management question prior to being in a position, these tangible criteria are the only thing one can use to make a decision on where to work. Many times though, this information isn’t enough, and you only find out after you make a decision if it was the right one.


Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur

4 comments on “Who Do You Work For?

  1. greg

    What a great article. Two things I have learned in my 20+ year career – 1) you can work for a great company, but have a crappy manager. Don’t let that make you leave the company. 2) Managers are loyal, companies are not. Don’t do the company any favors, they will be the first to let you go to save a buck. Your manager will be the ones giving your references, and fighting for you during calibrations/reviews.

    1. Ginger Grant

      Greg —
      Thank you for the lovely complement. I think you made two really good points which may have been painful lessons for you. Here’s hoping someone else takes your sterling advice.


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  3. Tim Rodman

    Great post Ginger. I totally agree. Especially today where HR is becoming more of a marketing function and companies spend a lot of money to craft an HR brand that gets them on the “best companies to work for” lists, but much of it is marketing hot air. Ultimately our careers are about personal relationships and the most important relationship is with our immediate manager. Our immediate manager has a big impact on our happiness, our health, our work/life balance, our family life, etc.

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