Earlier this week, I had a great conversation with a young man who’s in college and working at PWC, #56 on our 2018 Fortune 100 Best list. We talked about business, graduate school and being an African American male in Corporate America. He shared a lot with me that made it clear he’s having a great experience at PWC, but at just 20 years old, he told me that he thinks a lot about his future. As he described the world that he was living in, I longed for him to have more of what I had as a 20-year-old in the 1980’s. It’s tough out there for young people right now.
As our conversation wrapped up, he asked me what advice I would give my 20-year-old self. I thought for a moment but couldn’t come up with any wisdom to share right then because everything that happened in my past, good and bad, has led me to my present life, which is great. But as I drove home and reflected on our conversation, something occurred to me; I left my first professional job as an engineer at Hewlett Packard, a company with a legendary culture and great leaders, for a company that had a lot less of both. So while a little late, I do have some worthwhile advice to share.
Always pick a great people manager over what looks like a great job.
A great people manager will treat you with respect, be fair, and provide feedback in a caring way that challenges you and helps you advance in your career. The world presents you with enough challenges; Being treated like you really matter, regardless of who you are or what you are, is the bomb. (For those that didn’t come of age in the 80’s, that’s a really good thing.)
You can’t change what one group of people thinks about another group of people.
It took me a while to learn this lesson. I was considered a spokesperson for one group and I took that role seriously. It was a tough lesson, but it has made me a stronger leader as a result. If this resonates with you or you’re curious about what I mean, connect with me on Linkedin and we can chat about it.
The exercise of reflecting is so important to our personal growth. I hope that by this time next year I will be clearer in my thinking and able to share more easily with those looking for advice. One thing that I know is that I hope I will have no regrets regarding my leadership and management of our young employees, older employees… ALL employees. If I do better, they will do better and together, we will all have a great experience.
Speaking of great leadership, I hope I’ll see you at our Summit in San Francisco next month!
Michael C. Bush
Great Place to Work