As a boss, your actions can create a supportive, productive work environment with high morale, or it can create a climate where finger-pointing, back-stabbing and throwing the other guy under the bus are the norm.
Here are six ways to become the kind of boss that makes employees happy to come to work.
- Clearly define your expectations. Good leaders have a vision of how things can be, and they communicate that vision to their team. Educate your employees on what they need to be doing, both through clear instruction and leading by example. Make sure employees are well trained in how things are done in your company, especially when you are establishing new work relationships, then give employees a chance to show you what they can do without micromanaging every detail. Make sure staff job descriptions are up to date. Hire well, train well, then stand back and give employees a chance to shine.
- Provide opportunities to learn and grow. Let employees challenge themselves. When they master a task, find ways to offer new responsibilities. Maybe an employee shows promise as a client contact or new business closer. Identify each employee’s interests and strengths, look ahead to see how those strengths could benefit the company and chart a course for bridging the gap.
- Let your employees do the jobs they were hired to do. Some of us have a hard time delegating, thinking it will be easier to do it ourselves rather than show someone else how to do it or take the chance that they won’t do it as well as we would. Don’t fall into that trap — you can’t do it all and this attitude is unfair to the employee, the company and yourself.
- Show respect for those you supervise. Don’t confuse being the boss with being the queen. Have the etiquette to criticize privately, congratulate both privately and publicly. If you need to discuss a performance problem with an employee, set up a time to talk; don’t do it in a team meeting or in the hallway within earshot of colleagues. Give credit where credit is due; if you have an employee who worked hard on a report that has your name on it, be sure to recognize their efforts. Show appreciation and make it a point to find something positive or complimentary to say to each employee periodically. Be open to receiving feedback and ideas from employees. And basic manners are as important at work as in every other aspect of life: knock before opening a closed door. Don’t drop a hot project on someone at 5 p.m. on Friday if it can be avoided. Say please and thank you.
- Don’t try to be buddies with your employees. No matter how much you like your employees or they like you, the time will come when you have to act like a boss. That means making unpopular decisions, critiquing performance during reviews, changing schedules, even reassigning or firing someone. Keep your relationships with employees professional. Don’t share intimate details of your personal life with employees around the water cooler. Be friendly, but as the boss, your social circle simply can’t consist of those you supervise.
- Remember that your actions set the tone for the office. Good morale leads to good performance, so do what you can to foster an environment where employees are happy to come to work. Whether intentional or not, your actions are showing employees what behavior is acceptable at work. If you badmouth colleagues or clients around the office, you’re teaching your staff that it’s okay to treat others that way. If you have an optimistic, supportive, can-do attitude, you’re teaching employees that you value — and expect — a positive work atmosphere.
Successfully managing people doesn’t come easily to many of us. It requires an investment of effort, time and thought. But the payoffs are huge: by striving to be the best manager you can be, you have the potential to inspire your team, motivate them to do good work and create an atmosphere that helps you and those around you be at their best.