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What's The Good & The Bad About Where You Work?

What do you especially like or not like about where you work and who you report to?

I'm at a new company and would like to get some feel for what others really appreciate or really don't appreciate in a supervisor or work environment so I can make my team as happy and successful as possible. 

I know what my old team was like at the previous company, but hope to have some new thoughts about the new team, who I don't really know yet.

Any ideas greatly appreciated.



Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

The last major long-term assignment had some unique good points.

Top is that both the President and CEO and I hit it off. We had/have a great relationship built on mutual respect and shared experiences. That doesn't mean we always agreed, but we compromised and moved on.

My subordinate (Controller) was given the room and breadth to grow. His opinions were sought, appreciated and part of many decisions. Here again, mutual respect plays an important role as does communication.

This has not always been the case at other long-term gigs.

Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Get to know your people, invite them to come in and chat about their personal goals and ambitions, ask them to help you settle in
Explain your objectives and responsibilities and discuss how to align their work with yours
Be yourself, be a personable person
Make them want to come to work each day to work with you (not for you)

(Accounting Manager) |

In addition to the other contributing comments, I also think it's important to make your team feel that their opinions matter, and their contribution to the company is important to the company's growth and development. Allow them to do their jobs, but find ways to make recommendations for improvement. I believe employees respond better to positive feedback and communication, as it pertains to their work and contribution. As you develop relationships with your team, find out their career objectives because some will be looking for growth opportunities and to learn new things. So, find ways to develop and utilize those individuals to make the department better, more productive, and efficient. These are all things I appreciate in a supervisor, and would appreciate in my current supervisor (Controller).

Best wishes!

(Tax & Regulatory Consultant) |

Ask them "If this was your zoo, and you were the zookeeper, what would you change, what would you keep, and what would you improve?"

Then ask them to manage up and help you help them...

(Accounting Manager) |

In total agreement with the last statement. A happy employee is more productive! When people enjoy coming to work you have less calling in out. It takes everyone to make a company grow and thrive.

Team building experiences as well as company experiences keeps everyone as a whole as well. We have cookouts and pancake breakfasts during the year, a Thanksgiving lunch, an off site Christmas party.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

"Team building experiences as well as company experiences keeps everyone as a whole as well. We have cookouts and pancake breakfasts during the year, a Thanksgiving lunch, an off site Christmas party."

BTDT! Too many times. Or maybe, I'm just an old grump. :-)

It took me years of middle management participation and executive level oversight of such "team building" to realize that, while well intended, organizations are taking this team building thing too far.

It's one thing to develop or train staff. It's something else to coerce people into joining in on non-work functions, particularly on their own time outside of work that is rightfully theirs.

Yes, when on the field the winning team will play well together and function as a synchronized team. And, that takes a team mindset and a good coach.

But, off the field they are each individuals, entitled to their own lives, values, beliefs and activities. They don't have to play well together outside of work to have fulfilling lives, of which work is only a part.

I've learned to get nervous when an employer speaks of being "like a big family" or talks about all sorts of extra curricular activities aimed at "team building". IMHO (and I did gladly go along with this in my younger days in an effort to show my teamsmanship) these kinds of things become organizational intrusions into one's personal life. They often lead to a cult like organization rather than an employer/employee relationship. You are either one of the Stepford residents or, you are an outsider. They are fraught with peril actually.

This is especially poignant with today's diverse workforce. Where I work now we have quite a mix of Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Jews and Hindu. You can't really have a "Christmas" party now can you? And, why should you?

How about each employee can enjoy their own personal life outside of work?

In my own experience, mature, level headed people appreciate time off to spend as they please over company functions any day of the week. But groupthink often keeps them from speaking up that, rather than attending some gussied up company "Christmas party", they'd rather take a half day off to use in their personal lives.

I don't want employees bringing their personal life to work with them. And in return I won't let our organizational needs interfere in their personal life. That seems fair to all. People are employees of an organization, not marital partners of the company.

When were here we work together as a team. When were not here, we each have a life fear of work's boundaries. That's they way it should be.

(Controller) |

I am involved with a private startup, with exciting potential based on newly patented technology, where I (Controller) was brought in as part of major change management (CFO, President/COO) to replace everyone except the CEO, VP R&D and Engineering. The previous leadership, including the CEO, VP R&D and Engineering) almost sank the company. It was exciting to set the foundation for the future of the company, working with the CFO and COO who were mentoring me through some Financing areas to build me to take over as CFO. In turn I have been mentoring junior administrators/accountants through day to day operations.

However we now know that the CEO had secret conversations with our joint venture partner, which circumvented the whole process. This led to the new CFO & President/COO to leave. A just recently hired (< 6 months ago) CFO who does not have any previous experience as CFO, continues to request direction from me on how to handle auditors, board memo's, board resolutions, equity, and financial statements, thus I am doing 2 positions. CEO hired the CFO because he is a yes man. Also the CEO has the Chairman on his side since he gave him significant share holding.

I was told the firm was going for an IPO within a year, however that has now changed. New stock options/RSU's proposed does not include me, yet others at similar level are getting them. I know the writing is on the wall and I am in no mans land trying to keep a "JOB" until the current local job market builds again.

Ultimately EGO's are driving the greed, which in turn limits the Integrity. Integrity is difficult to find in leaders as they typically want you to make them look good vs what is good for the whole. Aligning your teams goals with corporate goals will build a team, both personally and professionally, who will thirst to come to work each day.

Anonymous User
Title: CFO
Company: Local Government Agency
(CFO, Local Government Agency) |

Ah, the old "we're going public in a year and you'll be rich" routine.

This has been going on since the late 1990s, with only slight changes over the last decade.

Why do so many people fall for this hook, line and sinker and make major sacrifices in their career and personal life for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

The odds are against you. The statistics are telling.

If one is so ambitious as to want to gamble like this, why doesn't one create their own startup? At least then one would retain some level of control and not be subject to the egos and whims of other entrepreneurial types. Many who would sell their own mothers for a quarter.

(Finance Director / Controller) |

CFO @Gov - your posts are truly refreshing and frankly more honest than most of the cheerleading that goes on nowadays.

David Smith
Title: Manager
Company: Private
(Manager, Private) |

Anonymous CFO @ Gov and Anonymous Finance Director; Not everyone is interested in the trade-offs associated with overly secure jobs, like working for government.

I personally think it's great to have a financial interest in the success of the startup organization. It also doesn't take an IPO for that stake to pay off.

Also, just because one has stock options or works for a startup does not necessarily mean they have made much of a sacrifice. They made what they perceived to be the best choice available at the time. What's so bad about that?

As it relates to this post's original question, good managers take the time to discover what motivates the folks who work for them. If that's the organization's success because of a financial interest or mere competitiveness or whatever... so be it.

In the case of the startup that doesn't work out to be exactly a pot of gold - so what? On to the next experience!

Anonymous Finance Director, I too appreciate Anonymous Govt CFO's candor.


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