In a perfect world, your dream job would be at a great company, with a great boss.
But according to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, the odds of this special combination occurring are small.
“There is a very good chance that at some point in your career, you are going to have to make the incredibly difficult decision between working for a good boss at a bad company, or a bad boss at a good company,” she tells CNBC Make It. “This dilemma is so common and such a hard call that my husband, Jack Welch, and I refer to it as ‘The Classic.'”
Welch says there are two common but different scenarios that you’ll likely encounter at different points in your career. In one instance, she says, you may find yourself working for an encouraging boss who gives your work meaning and provides challenging assignments. “They probably believe in you more than you believe in yourself,” she says.
In this case, she says, “work isn’t always easy, but it’s fun.”
In another instance, Welch says you may find yourself dealing with a discouraging boss who likes to pit people against each other. “This tact might get results, but it’s an unbearable work culture, and a lot of times you’re miserable,” she explains.
While both scenarios put you in a bind, Welch says that choosing to stick with a good boss at a bad company is the wrong decision.
“A good boss at a bad company is only OK in the short run,” she explains. “They can make your life great for a while, or protect you from the organization’s dysfunction for a while. But bad companies eventually wear out good bosses, and they go.”
Instead, Welch recommends that you always choose a good company, even if your boss is terrible. In the end, she says, a thriving company will likely push that boss out for someone better.
“What’s more, at a healthy company, your career will have a longer runway, because good companies typically have more growth,” she adds.
Regardless of how hard this decision may seem, Welch says you should always “hitch your wagon to a great company, and not a great individual. And hopefully someday, you’ll have both at the same time.”
Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Instituteand a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at [email protected]