Are you a great boss?

Are you a great boss?

April 28, 2019

Great bosses are rare. But it’s really not that hard to be one. Employees appreciate a leader who’s respectful, supportive, honest and compassionate, according to a recent informal survey of business readers. And most of all, they don’t like a micromanager.

If being a great boss is something you aspire to — or just secretly wonder if you are — check yourself against these five characteristics.

1. Trust employees to do their jobs

If you hire someone for their skills, experience and good judgment, then do not spend your days telling them exactly how to do their jobs.

“[My current boss] trusts that I am a veteran professional and does not micromanage,” said high school teacher Michael Cowan, 50, of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan.

And the best bosses’ extend their trust even when someone makes a mistake. Design innovation director Binoy Yonzon, 48, of New Providence, New Jersey, said his boss in the banking industry “knows I will get the job done, but also allows me space to fail, and trusts me to learn from my failures.”

Trusting your team may even help with employee retention. “I am in this job longer than I have been in any other and it is primarily because of the trust and support I feel from my leadership,” said 39-year old attorney Douglas Wawrzynski, who works at a research university in Utah.

2. Respect the people who work for you

You need to genuinely respect who’s working for you as employees and as people if you want the best from them.

“My boss respects all his employees and treats us like the important spokes in the wheel we all are. Everyone who works for him appreciates him. Our department gets things done because of him,” said Pat Cody, 66, of Overland Park, Kansas, who works for a dean at a community college.

Lawyer and engineer Steven Rocci, 65, of Wayne, Pennsylvania, cited two of his bosses when he worked as an engineer in his 20s. “Both were very respectful. They valued my opinion even though I was young. And that kind of thing motivates you to do better,” Rocci said.

Another boss early in his law career told him he’d do great things. “He made you work hard without making you feel like you had to work hard,” Rocci noted.

3. Support their success and have their backs

Being an excellent mentor and coach came up again and again.

Rashod Taylor, 34, of Bloomington, Illinois, said he had a boss in financial services whose infectious energy and management style reminded him of a favorite coach.

“He pushed you but always had your best interest at heart and wanted you to succeed. He was also very positive, which rubbed off on the team. …This is a manager you would walk on hot coals for,” Taylor said.

Of course, it can be hard to succeed if your boss doesn’t have your back when the going gets tough.

Winnie Anderson, 56, of Lewiston, New York, said an experience working for a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in recruitment at a hotel was one of her best.

“He always supported you and your decisions even when the decision wasn’t the best. If a mistake was made, he helped you see it for the mistake it was. He helped you break down the thinking (or lack of it) that led you to make that decision so you didn’t make it again,” Anderson said.

4. Be open, honest and a good listener

Readers said they like to work for bosses who are “transparent” and “honest” and for those who really hear what employees are telling them.

Kathy Duff, 54, of Vancouver, Washington, was working for a great boss at a health insurance company when the business was going through a lot of internal changes.

“No matter what was happening, she would take the time to discuss with us the company news, future audits, as well as have regular one-on-one meetings with us. We moved out of state, otherwise I would still be there working for her,” Duff said.

Paula Jelen, 60, of Big Lake, Minnesota, has happily worked for the same boss in community education services for more than a decade. “Is he perfect? No. But he listens to others’ opinions and always considers them.”

5. Show compassion and caring

Jasdeep Sandhu, 26, feels he and others on his team at a pharmaceutical company in London are successful in great part due to their boss, who “shows that empathy is more powerful than aggression” and makes the team feel like a family, Sandhu said.

“She has this magical ability to lead with empathy, compassion and transparency. … She fosters an environment of psychological safety where the team feels comfortable taking risks. We look after each other, and we don’t deliver just to exceed our targets but to make each other feel proud.”

Another reader cited the tough-love approach of her former boss at a county prosecutor’s office.

“He maintained structure, and expected detectives to investigate crimes as if their own family were the victims,” said Kimberly Jones, 34, of Newark, New Jersey. “As much as he demanded respect he gave it. … He also had a heart of gold.”

Other than winning their employees’ praise and appreciation, great bosses set the bar for excellence for the rest of people’s careers.

HR professional Doreena Muchmore, 42, of Midtown Atlanta, Georgia, said she worked for a role model boss when she was in the software industry.

“I base my everyday business decisions on what he has taught me over the years and I truly think of him every day,” Muchmore said. “I am sure he has no idea how much he’s impacted my life. I would rather disappoint my own parents than disappoint him.”

But there’s more to being a great boss than just a characteristic.

Bosses are often the primary reason for people either loving or leaving their jobs. A boss is considered the umbilical cord that connects employees to an organization, and if that cord is damaged, the employees will eventually leave. If you are one of the lucky employees who has a great boss, don’t take that relationship for granted.

Here’s some other qualities that make a boss great:

1. Sets clear expectations

A great boss sits down with a new employee right from the beginning and identifies priorities. She discusses the performance review, and how she defines “excellent performance.” She holds discussions regularly in regards to expectations from that point on.

An effective boss doesn’t tell her employees how to get the work done. She talks about outcomes and results with them, and the employees are entrusted to execute the details and the process in the way they see fit.

Expectations are set in different ways — sometimes in a formal planning session, other times in an informal conversation about a specific issue.

2. Coaches

A great boss views her position as both a leader and a coach, someone who educates and encourages her players, who leads her team by example.

An effective boss does not assume her employees know what to do and how to do it. Like a good coach, she calls in the plays from the sidelines. Often a boss might be tempted to run in the game and play it herself, while her employees don’t learn a thing. A great boss recognizes that success in coaching is found in the balance of control – that fine line between being over-controlling and under-controlling – to be enough of a presence as a source of help, but not so much as to overshadow her players.

3. Gives feedback

Some bosses wait until the formal performance review to relay negative feedback to their employees. When this happens, employees are left thinking – Why didn’t my boss tell me sooner? I could have tried to change or do things differently. Giving employees feedback along the way establishes a coach-player relationship. There’s a sense of conversation, of leadership, and of cooperation. Waiting until the performance review for feedback, however, has more of a prosecutor-prosecuted/trial-verdict feel, and negative feedback rings like punishment.

4. Recognizes efforts

Employees need to feel appreciated. Research shows that human beings thrive on recognition. They just never get tired of it. Nothing works like positive reinforcement, and a great boss is very aware of this. She mentions the things she likes that her employees are doing; it’s no surprise that she gets more of those things.

Common sense, really. If someone wears a new pair of blue pants one day, and gets a lot of compliments about them, that person will certainly wear the pants again. In this way, human behavior is certainly not complicated.

5. Is inclusive

It’s essential for employees to feel like equals and equal contributing members to the team.

A great boss creates an environment based on integrity, trust, respect — and one that encourages feedback, innovation, and creativity. Employees in such an atmosphere flourish.

6. Gets to know employees

A great boss stops by and says hello. She makes herself available. No matter what she’s doing, when employees speak to her, she will stop and give them her full attention.

An effective boss takes a personal interest in her employees’ lives. She doesn’t pry. She tries to get a better appreciation for the entire person inside the employee. An employer who understands her employees’ lives is more likely to be sympathetic and, for example, consent to flex time when required. Employees who feel that their boss is caring and interested in who they are will be more committed to their work.

7. Finds each person’s unique talents

A great boss observes her employees to find out what they do best. She talks to them about what aspects of their job they enjoy the most. A great boss taps into and leverages the instincts and skills her employees have. This creates a win-win as she is able to reap the rewards of employee satisfaction, and employees grow increasingly inspired and confident about their work, skills, and talents. Moreover, they feel appreciated, that someone has their best interests in mind.

An effective boss makes a personal investment in her employees’ success. She takes the time to sit down and discuss their goals with them and she does what she can to help them achieve such ambitions.

8. Works fearlessly

An effective boss encourages her employees not to be scared of making mistakes along the way. The mentality a great boss puts forward is one that encourages learning – not one that instills fear of making a mistake. It’s about opportunity, trying something new and different, and pushing personal limits. Fear only inhibits growth. Instead, a great boss uses mistakes as tools.

9. Is made, not necessarily born

It is true that some bosses have a natural flair for leadership, and motivating and inspiring others. That said, much of what it takes to be an effective leader is learned behavior. A lot of people have innate traits that could make them great bosses; it’s a matter of developing those capabilities. A great boss rarely stays great without working at her craft. Greatness can be maintained by attending management classes and seminars, reading books, and doing a lot of self-assessment. Want more guidance? Sign up for exclusive Monster Hiring advice and we’ll send you the latest recruiting tips, hiring trends, and management strategies to help you develop your leadership skills and inspire others.

Source: CNN Business and