Just like good teachers, good bosses are rare. So when we meet one, we tend to appreciate them.
When you look back at your own professional life and all the bosses you have worked with, which ones stand out the most and why? Which bosses command respect and which ones make your heart go cold with hatred?
Very often, our own experiences with authority shape our perceptions of how we should behave as a boss. If we have suffered bad bosses in the past, we could either learn from their failure or subconsciously morph into a bad boss ourselves.
As you start your entrepreneurship journey, you must take on the challenge to brush up your interpersonal skills to inspire and get the best out of your employees. While there is no set formula on how to become a good boss, here are some traits to emulate when you find yourself in the role of authority.
Value Your Employees
Bosses from hell are a stock stereotype in our culture and movies. They yell without reason, don’t understand their employees, are themselves incompetent, and so on. If you examine the stereotypes though, you will find that these people are hated and made fun of primarily because they lack empathy. They just don’t care for their staff. In fact, the word bossy doesn’t have a single positive connotation to it!
If you want to be a good boss, do the exact opposite of what the nasty bosses do.
You have hired people for a salary and they are expected to do their best for you. Fair enough. But even so, thanking them every now and then, appreciating a good performance, showing some flexibility towards their problems, and implementing employee-friendly policies in your company will earn you a lot of respect from your staff.
We are not asking you to be a great human being (though that is not a bad idea either) – merely that you be considerate. Even that will go a long way towards having you regarded as a good boss.
There is a lot of practical sense in keeping your employees happy, too. It will motivate them to raise their professionalism, may help with employee retention, and prevent them from leaving bad reviews about you in the social media. These days that helps.
If You Must Criticise, Do it in a Constructive Way
Being nice comes with the problem of how to switch gears. As a boss, you will need to provide criticism from time to time. How can a nice boss get tough when the need arises?
Here’s the problem. In our minds, being nice equates to being soft – hence the saying “nice guys finish last”. However, being nice and getting tough are not incompatible.
You have to be nice because you understand the importance of valuing your employees and respecting them. At the same time, you have to get tough because you are aware that your main job, after all, is to ensure that your employees deliver what they’re expected to. If you are unable to do that, it’s a failure on your part. So how do you strike a balance?
Say, for example, you are not happy with an employee’s performance. What do you do? A bad boss would shoot off a nasty email and scare the poor employee out of his wits. There’s a better way of handling this. You could talk to the employee, but not before you have determined the exact cause of your dissatisfaction with him. Is it punctuality, incompetence, a lack of professionalism, or something else? Keep a lid on the extent of your disappointment and choose your words carefully.
Your tone and language should remain professional as you calmly list the reasons you think the staff’s performance has been unacceptable. Your criticism should be coupled with suggestions to help the employee as well, and should be delivered in a constructive manner. You don’t want to demoralise the employee, but build him up so that he delivers what you hired him for.
What you should do next if the employee does not improve is up to you. Our point here is that you will have to pepper your niceness with tough talk every now and then to keep things on track. A boss who is nice all the time will not be taken seriously by his employees.
Inspire Your Workers
What is passion if not a state of energy and what is inspiration if not a transfer of energy?
Start-ups and new businesses are usually great places to work for because they are still charged with the vision and energy of their founders. Your employees are not the latest in line to slog away in the hundredth office of a corporate behemoth, but one of the few employees who have the chance to sculpt a business. That in itself is inspiring. We can write reams on the topic of employee motivation, but one of the best ways to achieve that is by not letting your entrepreneur energy sag.
Inspired leadership produces a marvellous effect on people; it makes them want to get out of their beds in the morning and go to work. If you manage to achieve that, you will have achieved a lot.
Everybody has an opinion on how a company should be run and what their bosses should be like. You’ve probably got strong opinions yourself, which may or may not concur with ours. At the end of the day, most of us who are in the position of authority instinctively know when we are being high-handed or mean. For a good boss, it is important to listen to that voice. It is also important to adapt ourselves to changing circumstances in order to effectively inspire and lead teams. So break with the conventional view of management and try something new today.