I don’t think anyone wants to be a “bad” boss. I know when I was younger I wasn’t a good boss. Not because I wanted to be poor at my job—I hadn’t thought about how to be a better boss. My excuse was I wasn’t trained; I wasn’t given direction. Until I realized there was more to management than meeting deadlines and hitting quotas, I was an ineffective boss. Here are ten ways to be a better boss that I learned the hard way (and I’m still learning.)
Have a mission – People work harder when they believe what they’re doing makes a difference. I once read a story about a leader who challenged his janitorial staff to make a difference in their co-workers lives by maintaining the cleanest restrooms possible. Understanding the impact of clean restrooms on the entire operation took the task from drudgery to mission.
Share a vision – Explain where the organization is headed, but more importantly, what that means to the individual. Share the possibilities and potential; help them visualize a career path. See more in your team members than they see in themselves.
Tell the truth – Even if it hurts. One lie leads to another, and your reputation doesn’t become that of the protector who shields his team from the truth, but that of a liar who misleads his direct reports. Practice transparency.
Learn what others need– Take the time to ask what motivates people, their learning style, and communication preference. Everyone doesn’t think, learn, or process information the same as you.
Seek advice – People appreciate being asked for their opinion and input even if it’s not used. And sometimes your team will have a better idea than yours.
Train – Offer in-house and outsourced training. Teach your team what you’ve learned including pitfalls to avoid. Your goal should be for every member of your team to know everything you know…and more.
Listen – People want to be heard not talked at, interrupted, and ignored. If you want people to work harder to reach team goals—listen to them. Acknowledge their importance by showing the respect to hear what they have to say.
Recognize positive behavior – Give it often and share it how the individual wants it shared. Some people want recognized in front of their peers, others would prefer a thank you note. Regardless, recognize positive results, actions, and character.
Give a Damn – If you don’t care about your people. If you don’t get a feeling of accomplishment watching others improve. You’ll never be the boss you could be.
There you have, ten ways to be a better boss. Although you probably can’t embrace all ten overnight, you can start on them right now. Pick one and commit to it for the next 30 days. What have you got to lose?