In every growing business, how to be a great boss will either make or break a company.  If done well is one of the best growth opportunities within the business.  However, done badly, can interrupt growth, damage reputation and moral and derail the stability of the entire business!

I’ve recently written blogs regarding 7 ways to improve your influence and How to feed a superhero! But today, I want to share:

10 Qualities of a Great Boss

  1. Communicates Clear Vision

Whilst there are MANY qualities of a good boss, predominantly employees go to work and want to make a difference and do a good job.  Bosses who communicate a clear vision for the organization, help to engage employees by making them understand why they do what they do.  This can be exemplified even further, by tieing the business vision to a highly emotive issue beyond the profits of the business and share holder returns.  How does YOUR business make a difference not only for your employee’s and customers, but the local community, the industry, the world?This gets employees involved and interested in helping the organization achieve its objectives and in turn satisfies them that they are also contributing to something of value to them beyond a pay check.

UN Global Sustainability Strategy

UN Global Sustainability Strategy

These are the 17 largest problems facing the world right now.  Which one(s) are you contributing towards? Either locally, Nationally, or Internationally.  Either Directly or Indirectly!

  1. Connects Vision to Daily Tasks

Great bosses demonstrate how employee tasks support what the organization is trying to achieve.  This is done by showing a clear line connection between what the employee does on a day-to-day basis and how it supports the mission of the organization.  This is achieved by writing DUMB goals that support organizational goals that are ultimately tied to business strategy. Not sure what DUMB goals are? Click on the link and see why SMART simply aren’t!

  1. Sets Clear Performance Expectations

Research suggests that employees experience increased stress levels when they don’t have a good understanding of what is expected of them.  Setting clear performance expectations by providing the employee with a very specific description of what is required of them, that lays out all expected tasks and include employee goals, a time frame to which these should be completed within and identification as to who they should approach if and when they need assistance.  The employee’s line manager should discuss and clarify these expectations through regular one-on-one conversation.

As priorities change, continue to communicate updated expectations to provide the employee with an ongoing understanding of their role and job responsibilities and be open and willing to receive feedback from them which is reviewed, considered and reacted to.

  1. Provides Consistent Feedback and Coaching

Employees need regular feedback for how well they are meeting expectations.  Help them understand when they are doing a good job and communicate when they are not meeting requirements.  This can be achieved by coaching employees on a regular basis. If you see something that they are doing right, mention it. If you see something that needs to change mention it as soon as you are aware.  Often employees do not even realize when they are not meeting requirements. It is the manager’s responsibility to coach and develop them.

The boss has the responsibility of telling them when they are not adhering to service standards, but also responsible for working with them to understand what and how they can improve to meet and surpass these.

For example, if a manager hears an employee’s being rude to a customer on the phone, they need to point it out to them and coach them on a better way to communicate with customers.  If this doesn’t happen, the customer experience is affected, and the employee may not even be aware that their mannerism is inappropriate.

  1. Cares About the Employee as a Person

Employees want to feel like they are cared about on a personal level.  A great boss will take the time to ask about an employee’s life outside of work also and be willing to acknowledge and consider this in the expectations of them. Employees feel valued when the boss shows an interest in a their hobbies, family or other interests.  If you want to see an employee light up, just ask them about their kids!

One brief example I’m happy to share was with a previous employee I had who worked as office manager.  She was also a key holder and was responsible for unlocking the building first thing in the morning.  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday the building was always open, lit, warm and the coffee on before anyone else arrived.  Yet on Thursday most of the staff were often waiting around in the car park for her to arrive.  This went on for some weeks, before I began to receive complaints at which point I needed to understand why?

“We only have one car” she explained “and Most days my husband gives me a lift on his way to work.” she continued “But on Thursday it’s his day off, and I have to catch 2 buses” immediately in that one sentence everything made sense, and the answer became clear.

We paid for her to receive driving lessons and paid for her test!  Weeks later, she was able to drive herself to work on a thursday, and nip to “do a bit of shopping” on her way home as she so gladly advised us all.  For the sake of a few hundred pounds, I’d fixed the thursday morning issue, bought an exceptional amount of loyalty and good will by not just providing driving lessons, but given her freedom to come and go as she pleased!

  1. Shares Personal Experiences

Bosses who share personal experiences demonstrate their vulnerabilities and helps employees appreciate the human side of the manager.  When a supervisor shares real life struggles and how they process the issues of life, it not only humanizes their relationship but can also serve as a life mentor for employees.

For example, if a boss shares a conflict, they have with a neighbour, and how they resolved the conflict, it provides an additional coaching opportunity. It also gives the employee a lens into the personal life of their boss, whilst not becoming so vulnerable that it could otherwise be used as leverage! Remember, as Tom Hanks states within the film saving private ryan “There’s a chain of command. Gripes go up, not down. Always up. You gripe to me, I gripe to my superior officer, so on, so on, and so on.” So be considered when sharing your vulnerabilities.

  1. Makes Work Fun

I had a boss tell me once that “if you’re not having fun at work, you’re in the wrong job.”

At the time I didn’t really understand what he meant but it makes so much sense to me now.  Whether you are working a line in a factory, greeting guests at the reception area or flipping hamburgers, every work environment has the opportunity to be a fun and productive place to work.  Incorporating fun activities, events and organized play-time for employees gives them something to look forward to. By creating an environment people WANT to be within, they enjoy their time there and are (according to statistics 12% more productive)

Things as simple as dress down Friday or a lunchtime video game challenge can not only be fun – but also a great team-building exercise.

  1. Fosters Team Development

Diverse personalities and varying frames-of-references can make team interactions difficult.  Great bosses have good team leader skills that foster team development.  A great boss knows how to gather the troops and get them all headed, in unity, in the same direction.  The most recent studies looking at the millennial impact on employment found that a workforce with more than 3 decades of different age groups is by some margin more productive than those where all employee’s are of the same/similar age!

  1. Values Employee Perspectives

Employees do the work of the organization and great bosses care about what employees think and proactively solicits employee feedback.  They understand that employees often have the answers to many of the operational problems, and why wouldn’t they.  Whilst your navigating the ship, they are in the engine room tending the pumps!  And when asked, employees feel valued for being able to contribute their thoughts and opinions.

Within our business we reward “Good idea’s” as much as we do “good actions” and it goes down exceptionally well, both by the individual and the rest of the staff.

  1. Rewards Good Performance

Employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job and should be rewarded for meeting and exceeding job requirements.  When employees have a good understanding of what is expected of them, given the tools and training to do their job and are rewarded for doing a good job they become engaged with the organization and committed to helping it achieve its objectives.

Employees go to work and want to do a good job, but it is the boss that sometimes gets in the way of them performing well. When bosses communicate where the organization is going, explains how what the employee does contributes to what they are trying to accomplish and allows employees to participate in organizational problem-solving efforts, they create an environment that employees are proud of and enjoy working in.

So, there you have it.  10 ways to improve your chances of being voted BEST BOSS OF THE YEAR.  Remember, being a boss is a privileged position, but only because you get the opportunity to serve your team in order, they can become the very best versions of themselves under your care.

“Lead to inspire by inspiring to lead”

I recall one such boss during my time in the Army.  When I joined the regiment, he was a Lieutenant Colonel and our Commanding Officer.  It was immediately apparent, he wasn’t the same as other Commanding Officers I’d served.  He was different, and that difference resonated throughout the entire regiment.  Despite how big the regiment was, he knew your name! And not just your surname, emblazoned across your jacket, but your first or ‘nick’ name. (By the time I left, there were over 600 in the Regiment). If you were married, he most likely knew your partners name. And if you had children he probably knew that also.

But a lot more than that, he knew people.  He knew how to get the best out of you. How to inspire you to care more, do more, achieve more.  He inspired you to turn up early, stay late, become a team that would literally live and die together! And it didn’t go unnoticed.  Shortly after I’d left the service, I learnt of his promotion, and promotion and promotion.  By the time HE retired he was a 3 star General and Deputy Chief of the General Staff (One of THE most senior positions in the Forces).

As Business owners we can all become so entrenched in growing the BUSINESS, that we sometimes forget, our GREATEST responsibility is to grow our STAFF!

“The GREATEST investment every business owner can EVER make, is in the recruitment, development and retention of its people”

As my Sales mentor – Marcus Cauchi once shared with me “Learn to monitor and manage leading indicators not lagging indicators” referring to managing people and their results, not their performance! “If we only ever find ourselves working to the stick not the carrot, eventually people become oblivious to the stick. Your only choice then is to buy a bigger stick!