Seven steps to become a better boss

Being a great manager requires personal insight and a desire to grow here Elaine Varelas, provides her strategies for successful leadership.

There are many different types of personalities, traits and attitudes, in turn these result in many types of bosses. If you ask someone about their boss, many will provide a bipartisan or vague response, “They’re ok. I don’t mind working for them.” Nothing bad stated, but what manager wants that indifferent review? 

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Most supervisors strive to be that boss who take time out of their busy schedule to help employees, see their team succeed, groom their skills, and to be a mentor. But if you don’t monitor yourself, you can end up leaning towards the type of boss who is either absent, constantly micro-manages or unapproachable. Employees will always remember how they were treated, whether they had a boss who was a leader or a dictator, or who was just uninterested and too busy.

So, how does one become a better boss? Well, unfortunately it doesn’t happen overnight. Managing people is not easy, between meetings, deadlines, and overseeing your employees, it can be easy to lose track of what it means to be a great leader and it doesn’t allow much time to focus on your own leadership development.  However, becoming the best boss you can be is also one of the most powerful leadership development endeavours. It will not only impact your staff for the better, but will also make you a better, more productive professional too.  All bosses, no matter what level, must have room to grow.

Here are seven strategies for becoming a better boss today.

  1. Recognise your employee’s strengths: One of the main responsibilities of a boss is to assign the right tasks to the right people. Make an effort to take notice and understand each employee’s individual skillset. After recognising their specific strength, fit them with tasks that match it. Successes will boost their confidence to stretch their professional goals. Furthermore, ask your employees what interests them – a passionate employee is an efficient employee.
  2. Openly praise your employees: By praising employees, it will introduce positivity into the office and encourage employees to strive for success. However, when it comes time to give criticism, do it privately. No one wants to be embarrassed in front of their peers and if they are, it can cause resentment. Having a private conversation will be more constructive and will allow for an authentic open discussion.
  3. Bond with your team: Too many bosses isolate themselves from their team. However, building strong personal relationships with your employees will foster improved communication and trust. Plan a time to go out to drinks or dinner with your team. Better yet, organise a team building activity, for example fencing, a ropes course, etc., that will help the team connect, blow off some steam and have fun.
  4. Have an open door policy: This relates to the idea of bonding with your team. Keeping your door open encourages employees to approach you with questions, ideas and even feedback.
  5. Be open to feedback: As the boss, you have to find a balance between authority and approachability. Accepting feedback from your employees does not show weakness, but rather confidence, flexibility and trust. By letting your employees help you, it enables you to become the best boss you can be.
  6. Thank your employees: A little recognition goes a long way. When employees realise you are grateful for their efforts, it will not only increase productivity, but will also encourage them to keep up the hard work. According to Eric Mosley, CEO, Globoforce, “When employees feel appreciated, they not only work harder, but they are more inclined to trust each other and their leaders; they are more motivated and engaged in their work; and they feel a larger sense of meaning and self-worth in their lives.”
  7. Be empathetic: The goal of a boss is to lead a team that produces the highest quality results. However, everyone has a bad day, whether it is a personal or professional reason, it is important, as a boss, to listen and understand from where they are coming. Ron Webb, executive director of open standards research at APQC states “If you can’t put yourself in the shoes of the employee, you will never be able to understand them, and, ultimately, help them become a high performer.”

A boss’s job is a challenging one; it requires the balance of authority, empathy, likeability and efficiency. It is easy to lose sight of the main goal – to lead a team that gets results. By remaining authoritative yet approachable, flexible and confident, a boss can become a great leader.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm headquartered in Boston, and has over 20 years of career development and HR experience.

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