The alarm goes off in the morning and it’s time to get up. A million things race through your mind, and a lot of them seem to refer back to work. You have a group of 10 people that you manage and your to-do list for the day includes everything from training, to doing a formal write-up for poor performance, to setting up a new procedure for your department. As their boss, you want to make sure you are operating as a true leader, and you often wonder if you are doing that. You wonder if you have the respect and loyalty of your group. The bottom line is you want to be an effective boss. But you often find that it’s just difficult to do that, as you get caught up in the minutia of day-to-day responsibilities.
In terms of what is needed to be a boss who is respected, the themes all come together in the areas of skill and interpersonal effectiveness. Here are five guidelines you can follow to help you become the best leader and boss you can be.
Set clear guidelines and expectations for your employeesYour employees need to know what is expected of them. Whether that is in reference to the hours they work, the specific requirements of a project, the dress code and the list can go on and on. It’s so very important to set clear expectations, because without them your employees may not be clear as to what you expect from them as their boss. When people are unclear of what is expected of them, they rarely can hit the goals you want them to achieve because how could they? They don’t know what those goals are! And as the boss, it’s very hard to hold people accountable for something they don’t know or understand. In addition, on their end, they want to know what you expect so they can do a good job. So clarity of expectations is key to being effective.
Offer to provide help and guidance when neededWhen you see someone struggling with a project, offer to lend a hand when you can. When the work seems completely overwhelming for your group, offer to jump in. Nothing says that you are “in it” with your team, more than you getting into the nitty gritty when needed and getting your hands dirty. When your team needs your assistance you must be there to show them that while you are the boss, you are also interested in helping them succeed. Also, have an open door policy so your team knows that when they need you, you are there. Helping and being available to your staff is something that all employees appreciate and it will not go unnoticed.
Negative feedback must be given in privateNever berate an employee in front of their coworkers. Go ahead and put yourself in your employee’s shoes and imagine how that would make you feel. Everyone should be treated respectfully regardless of their performance. If you need to discuss anything negative, do it privately, or with an HR representative on hand if it’s a matter that would require HR’s presence. But any type of feedback like that should not include an audience of coworkers. Period. In addition, it’s always best to document everything as situations arise, so when it’s time to give negative feedback such as this, you have all the information you will need readily available.
Ask for input and feedback from your groupWhen you ask your employees for their input or feedback they feel valued. By asking an employee his/her opinion about an upcoming project or a new policy, etc., will show them that they are an integral and important member of the team. But when you ask for feedback there is another important step you need to take. The key is to incorporate your staff’s ideas whenever possible. By doing this your employees will know that they are an essential part of your department. And when you are not able to incorporate their ideas, be clear as to why you cannot do so. They deserve to understand why, and by sharing that information with them, they are more likely to want to share more ideas with you in the future. And your employees are a rich source of potentially many successful ideas, which in the end will benefit them, you and the company.
Never discuss one employee with anotherIf you are having a hard time with someone in your department, and your super-star employee that you trust completely comes into your office, fight every urge you have to talk about the “problem employee.” While you are human and you may have confidants in your department, you never know when the tide may turn. What happens if your confidant becomes a “problem employee” and starts sharing what you have shared with them? What happens if your confidant starts to wonder, if she is talking about another employee in our department maybe she is also talking about me. So, the bottom line is be safe and don’t do it!
Being an effective boss means helping your team in whatever it is they need. It means providing clear direction, treating your group with respect, valuing and implementing their input, and being professional. When all of these areas combine, your employees will respect you, value you, and be loyal to you knowing that you are not only their boss but someone that is a part of their team as well. And when this all comes together, your mornings will be much more pleasant as you ponder the work-day at ahead.