In this modern economy, everybody wants to land a great job. After all, we spend most of our waking hours at one—sometimes even more than at home. And when it comes to those hours, it’s the people you work with during that time that make it worth your while—or at least more bearable. Whether they trained you, supported you or berated you—every person you meet at work will always have something to teach you, good or bad.
Here are four types of many that you’ll hopefully meet once you’re at your job.
1. The Amazing Boss
A permanent fixture in urban folklore, The Amazing Boss only makes their appearance in the lives of a lucky few. Here are a few signs that you have one in your life:
● They treat you with respect. They don’t just see you as another cog in the machine.
● They constantly support your development: encouraging you to take smart action in your role, and constantly challenging you to do better.
● They give credit where credit is due: they know that a job well done on your end reflects well on them—and that there’s plenty of praise to go around. They usually put in a good word for you with the higher-ups.
● They respect your boundaries: work is just work. They don’t take anything personally, bug you during weekends, or ask you extremely personal questions that have nothing to do with your competency.
● That said, they can also be your friend: while a friendship is not necessary to have an Amazing Boss, usually the strongest friendships form when you have one in your life.
Having an amazing boss isn’t just great for your career development—it also sets a great example for the kind of boss you’d want to be like when you’re promoted to be one.
2. The Terrible Boss
Also a permanent fixture in urban folklore, The Terrible Boss sadly seems to make their rounds more frequently than The Amazing Boss. There are many types of horrible bosses—here’s how to tell if yours is one:
● They’re constantly disrespectful: they give negative feedback targeted at you (and not at your work); berate you in front of other colleagues to make an example of you; use emotional blackmail in their language; etc.
● They’d rather they get ahead than anybody else—even if it means stepping over you.
● They don’t provide constructive feedback and are not invested in your career trajectory.
● They take all the credit: they tell the higher-ups in meetings that everything was their idea (if it worked); and if it fails, then they let you fail on your own.
● They’re pretty toxic: they never know when to stop talking about work, and they don’t care if it’s 11 PM on a Saturday night. If they email, you better respond—or else there’s hell to pay when you get to work on Monday.
● Sometimes, your terrible boss isn’t as bad as the traits mentioned. Sometimes, they’re just disengaged, couldn’t care less about their job, and couldn’t care less about you. They don’t really do much, aren’t up for hanging out, and are constantly complaining about wanting to leave.
There are many things that having a terrible boss can teach you: one, it shows you what not to be like when you are a boss; and two (more importantly), it challenges you to do great work despite adversity beyond your control.
The way we see it, if you can get through this, you can get through anything—which is definitely a powerful trait to have to become a truly great professional.
3. The Mentor
While The Mentor and The Amazing Boss can sometimes be the same person, this is not always necessary. Sometimes, we choose our mentors; and sometimes, mentors just organically choose us. There are many types of mentors: they can be someone you look up to in your organization, or even a well-known professional doing what you dream to do one day. A few things that a mentor does:
● They constantly coach you on your professional and personal progress.
● They’re available for advice anytime you’re at a crossroads in your career and life in general.
● They provide wisdom accumulated from their years of experience—especially for tricky situations just like the one you’re in now.
● They help you get a different perspective on your problems—gently guiding you to see the opportunities in the problems.
● They inspire you to become a better version of yourself by being a great example and role model.
● They connect you to relevant contacts who can help springboard you for better opportunities.
Having a mentor in your career doesn’t just supercharge your growth; if anything, special mentor-mentee relationships are hard to come by—and it’s this special bond that makes their presence in your life worthwhile in the first place. Make sure to treasure yours once the time comes—and actively cultivate having them in your life.
4. The Office Best Friend
Work can be a blast, but it can still be overwhelming. Sometimes, you just need a confidante to turn to who can simultaneously comfort you, understand the context of where you’re coming from, and can even provide useful advice with regards to your office mates. Here’s how to know if you’ve met yours:
● You usually spend breaks together: lunches out, cigarette breaks, and even the occasional 5-minute pow-wow before a presentation.
● Speaking of presentation, the office best friend has got your back: if both of you are in a meeting, they help you clarify your point, bring attention to the great idea you just mentioned, and are the all-around friendly face you can look at if you’re nervous while presenting.
● When it comes to career development, there’s nothing to hold back when discussing it with them: if this raise was the right amount; if your office crush asked you out; what The Terrible Boss did today. You can trust them with your secrets, and they can trust you with theirs.
● When you’re bored or upset and just looking for a mental break, you can go over and hang out at their desk and chit-chat.
● If you’re lucky, the Office Best Friend also turns into a Real-Life Best Friend. You share personal problems with them; ask for their advice if you’re thinking of getting another job, and they’ll have dinner with you when you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
There’s no question that the strongest friendships can be found in an office. Not only do you guys spend so much time together—but you also experience things together that nobody else in your life could relate to, no matter how they close they are, simply because they weren’t there. Office Best Friends are awesome because they’re clear examples that sometimes, work can suck—but as long as you have a friend turn to, you’ll be alright.
At the end of the day, your career is important, but so are your relationships. Everybody you meet in your career, good and bad, are there to teach you important lessons. Make sure to value those lessons, take them to heart, and strive to be a wonderful presence back along the way—your career will thank you for it.