Good Boss, Bad Boss

Inspired by the good, the best (and the worst)

By Julie Hubert, President and CEO of Workland

Many of us have had the opportunity to work for some truly amazing bosses… and perhaps some of the worst.  I personally have had the pleasure of living on both sides of the spectrum, and I can now openly say that some of those bosses inspired me to literally quit my job and… hire myself!

We don’t always fully realize the extent to which we, as bosses, affect the present and future of the people that work for us. We have the power to either give our employees wings, or cut them off. More than ever today, anyone managing staff should introspect often and ask: “How do I rate on the boss scale?” Because ultimately, people leave bosses, not companies.

Here are my «10 commandments» of the AWESOME boss to make sure people reporting to you stay motivated, dedicated and inspired to stick through good and bad times:

1.Determine intrinsic motivators: What drives each member of your team to wake up every morning? What is important to them? What needs are they seeking to fulfill through work? What are their personal goals? How do they see their career path? If you can’t answer at least some of these questions for your key employees, it will be very hard to keep them engaged and motivated long-term.

2. Show sincere appreciation: When one of your employees does something great, let them know their work did not go unnoticed! Getting paid for great work is only part of the equation and does not lead to long-term engagement. It costs nothing to show appreciation and gratitude for a job well-done or for outstanding efforts to keep people motivated and continue outdoing themselves.

3. De-dramatize and celebrate: De-dramatize the worst, amplify and celebrate the good. As captain of your boat, if you freak out, they’ll all freak out and chances are your boat won’t get through the storm, no pail will be large enough to get the water out and you won’t be able to prevent your people from…jumping ship.

4.Inspire through communication: Effective communication has always been at the base of all human relationships, work being no exception. It would be unreasonable to expect that all bosses be naturally inspiring in nature and in any case, what employees are really looking for is a connection to a cause and purpose greater than themselves. Make sure your people know on a constant basis WHY their work is important in achieving the overall mission of the company.

5.Support your people: Sounds easy but the lack of support in achieving set objectives is one of the most popular reasons why people leave their job. Once targets are set for your people, make sure they know and feel that you are there to support them, both through good (easy) and tough times (not-so-easy). What would your employees answer to the question: “When you screw up, the thought of telling your boss makes you feel… Anxious? Stressed? Neutral? Reassured? Relieved? Freaked out?

6.Empower your A players:  Find the best racehorses and let them run! In a world where technology is taking over much of the transactional work, human beings are seeking to become and achieve more. A large portion of the human potential is unleashed through empowerment, this being even more the case with A players. So, pull the reins not on your horses, but on your micro-management tendencies, to prevent your horses from running to…another stable.

7.Let your people make mistakes: We all make mistakes and any boss needs to remember that before “throwing stones” at their staff. Worse than making errors, is having staff paralyzed from the fear of making mistakes, something that most people will not endure in the long run. Next time you worry about your staff making mistakes, remember this quote: « Mistakes can always be corrected, but it is inaction that will kill you ».

8.Create and foster trust: Just like marriages, work relationships cannot survive long term without trust. All your people need to know that no matter what happens in both their professional and personal lives, they can always come to you for support, understanding and advice. Trust is built through time, by consistently demonstrating to your employees that you have their best interests at heart.

9.Go the extra mile: We’ve all heard that it is the « little things » that count and this is definitely the case with your employees. Job satisfaction is the direct result of the sum of all your actions as a boss. You have someone in your team that really stands out? Someone that has been working relentlessly for months? Offer to do something extra special for them outside the usual norm of what would be expected. Monetary rewards are necessary to keep the work relationship alive, but it is the impact of all those little things that create true loyalty.

10.Make it fun: As most people still spend more time at work than anywhere else, at minimum, you should make it a point to make it fun to work in your team. This is the place to be extra creative and why not ask your staff to contribute their ideas? As there is a time to work hard, there should also be a time to play hard, so make sure you balance the two.

Oddly enough, there are thousands of courses available on pretty much any topic, but unfortunately, none are there to teach us right from the start how to be a good boss. So we end up learning directly in the field, from the good, the best and the worst. Being a great boss on a continuous basis is no easy task but all in all, if your intentions are honorable, if you sincerely care about your employees and if you make sure to incorporate at least some of the above recommendations in your Boss DNA, you are certain to increase the likelihood of retaining, motivating and inspiring your key talents.

Do you have other AWESOME boss ideas that could have made it on this list? Don’t hesitate to let me know!

PEOPLE LEAVE BOSSES, NOT COMPANIES

During our careers, many of us have the opportunity to work for some great individuals and some…not-so-great ones. All these individuals help teach us about ourselves and develop our preferences through the years, in terms of what we look for (and avoid) in bosses. Healthy boss-employee relationships are critical as more often than not, people end up leaving their job not due to the company per say, but rather due to an unsatisfactory relationship with their boss.

Naturally, some people tend to endure negative work relationships and situations as long as they possibly can, by trying to convince themselves that it will pass or that it isn’t worth leaving a job just because of someone else. Unfortunately, it sometimes is “that bad” and it can become increasingly easy to lose sight of our personal limits as we deal with difficult individuals & situations on a daily basis.

Indeed, spending most of the week with someone we don’t get along with, will eventually lead to a series of negative repercussions, both personally and professionally. Not being able to foster a healthy work-relationship with the person in authority will never allow you to build the proper foundation for productivity and growth in the workplace. This being said, you need to ask yourself whether your level of frustration with your boss is acceptable or not. Here are some simple questions to ask yourself in order to determine whether or not it’s time for you to start considering leaving your boss:

  • Do you get along with your boss? On a day-to-day basis, do you sense an obvious personality clash? No matter who we are, there will always be people we won’t like and with whom we are less likely to get along with. However, without being BFF with your boss, the problem comes when you are forced to interact and report daily to someone who you really don’t get along with. When asked about your boss, are you faster at listing what you hate rather than what you like about this person? If so, there’s definitely a problem worth looking into.
  • Are your work styles similar or at least complimentary? You like to take risks, manage high level and move fast, but your boss likes to take it down a notch, do 360° risk assessments and evaluate all action plans in their most minute details. Does this type of contrast sound familiar? As long as your boss gives you the flexibility and the latitude to be yourself even if you have a different style, you’ll be fine. Research actually shows that it’s preferable to have differently work styles for teams to be effective. But the day that you have to massively alter your work style to adjust it to your boss’s preferred style, know that trouble lies ahead.
  • Do you have clear guidelines and support in your work? Ultimately we all want to succeed in our work, no matter what it is that we do. However without guidelines, clear expectations and daily support in the accomplishment of set objectives, it becomes almost impossible to succeed. Do you know every day what you should be doing? Do you feel supported both through good and bad? Do you feel comfortable to walk into your boss’s office and ask for help or support for a particular situation? Remember that being aligned properly and receiving support on a daily basis from the person to whom you report, especially throughout challenging situation, are key drivers of overall job satisfaction.
  • Does your boss appreciate your work and provide you with feedback? Everyone appreciates a nice pat of the back once in a while and it does wonders to motivation levels and overall job satisfaction. Additionally, constructive feedback is imperative for growth, development and the achievement of objectives. Do you remember the last time your boss made you feel great about something you did at work? Appreciation and feedback are to healthy boss-employee relationships as air and water are to all living things. There’s just no way around it.
  • Is respect and trust built into the core of your work relationship? Respect and trust are at the foundation of all human relationships, no exceptions. Without them, constructive & productive relationships cannot exist and harmony and happiness at work become impossible to achieve. Why would someone in their right mind be happy to work 40-50 hours a week for someone they don’t respect or trust, or vice-versa? Why would you? Always keep a firm grasp on your limits and never put yourself in a prolonged situation where respect and trust are not present in your relationship with your boss.

So how to know if you should be considering leaving your boss? If you and your boss’s personalities and work styles clash, if you have no clear guidelines and support in your work, if you can’t develop yourself due to a lack of constructive feedback, and there is no trust or mutually respect; sadly, it’s probably time to seriously start thinking about leaving him or her. Whether it is through actions leading to reporting to a new boss within your existing company, or through efforts in seeking a new job and company, you probably need to start considering a move…sooner rather than later.

Don’t let the natural stress and discomfort of change make you over stay in a problematic work relationship, as whether you realize it or not, negative repercussions of growing proportions will be felt throughout all spheres of you life.  We spend a large portion of our life at work, sometimes even larger than the time we spend at home, so happiness at work is not a luxury. It’s a basic human need and everyone should be entitled to it. So if you see growing red lights in this area, take time to introspect and listen to life’s message telling you to grab your courage by the collar, get out there and start looking for your perfect boss match!