Not everyone knows how to be a great boss. But most can tell you a story about enduring a bad one. You may have heard many stories of bosses berating employees in front of other people, screaming at workers, or throwing temper tantrums.
This kind of behavior affects productivity (at least when the boss isn’t looking) and plays havoc on employee morale. When there is low morale, employees disengage – which contributes to undue stress. Employees who are forced to deal with a bad boss view the culture as “we” versus “them”. Not only do these hostile environments lower worker productivity, but they are also very difficult to manage.
We spend a third of our lives with our employees and co-workers so why not try to create an environment that encourages fun and supports productivity. Also, I think working for a good boss is a very motivating experience. It makes one work even harder and gives their very best efforts at the workplace while at the same time enjoying your job. Not everyone knows how to be the boss but successful managers have figured out what it takes to encourage and motivate employees. So what makes a great boss?
Here are some qualities which I think can distinguish a perfect boss or an ideal boss.
1. An ideal boss must have a clear vision
A great person Jonathan Swift has said, 'Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.’
For a boss to effectively lead his or her team, they need to have a clear vision of exactly what they want to achieve at work and in which direction their team should be going.
A good boss is one who leads a team in a common and unified direction. The boss needs to clearly understand the big picture regarding the company including the company’s vision, mission, and strategic goals, and then clearly identify where his unit, department, or team fits within the overall company vision.
2. Knowing how to execute the vision
"You have to have a big vision and take very small steps to get there. You have to be humble as you execute but visionary and gigantic in terms of your aspiration. In the Internet industry, it’s not about grand innovation, it’s about a lot of little innovations: every day, every week, every month, making something a little bit better." - Jason Calacanis
A good boss should easily communicate their specific vision to subordinates. The vision ensures focus, alignment, and efficiency.
A boss can communicate the vision through various forums such as group meetings or one-on-one discussions with staff.
The objective is to share what needs to be accomplished and why, and then encourage questions from subordinates to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
A good boss frequently reminds the team about the vision and regularly measures results against established milestones and targets and course corrects appropriately.
3. Set 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.
Set clear performance expectations by providing the employee with a very specific job description that lays out all expected tasks that include employee goals.
The employee’s supervisor should discuss and clarify these expectations through a one-on-one conversation. Employees who work for a supportive boss are more likely to be happier; less stressed and have higher work output.
Albert Schweitzer said something about being supportive, “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
The inability to make a decision or letting decision making drag on and on is a trait of a poor boss.
Good bosses are decisive; they do not get caught up in never-ending loops of analysis paralysis.
It doesn’t mean that they hastily make decisions; instead, depending on the situation and urgency, a good boss is able to weigh the available information and the missing information, probe to find more data or facts, consult others and make a decision that they believe is the best one based on the circumstances.
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
5. Is available for employees
A good boss is one who has an open-door policy and is available for subordinates when they need him or her.
Accessibility is critical; it gives you an advantage because employees feel comfortable reaching out and talking to you especially before a problem arises.
That way you don’t end up being a boss who is running around helter-skelter wildly putting out fires because employees were afraid to approach you in the first place before the fire started.
An approachable boss is trusted more by subordinates and breeds a culture of high morale and greater employee engagement in their work.
Subordinates, in turn, feel comfortable sharing with the boss their suggestions, feedback, recommendations, solutions, and ideas that could be valuable for the success of the company.
"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ― Leo Buscaglia
6. Provides consistent feedback and coaching
Employees need constant feedback on 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.
7. Set high standards and being demanding in terms of goal achievements
A good boss sets a high bar for achievement and demands good results from all her subordinates.
It all starts with the bosses setting high-performance standards for themselves and actively working towards achieving them.
Employees get more motivated and inspired upon seeing their boss walking the talk. A good boss both expects and motivates subordinates to produce their best efforts.
After performance goals have been set, the boss expects subordinates to be accountable in reaching the targets.
Regular check-ins, evaluations, and performance assessments are conducted along the way to ensure the train is still running on the tracks.
A good boss regularly addresses any challenges, deviations, shortcomings, and mediocrity in a timely manner and keeps the team moving towards a shared goal.
"You have competition every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that." ― Michael Jordan
8. Shares credit with Staff
One of the most demotivating things that some bosses do is taking all the credit and either ignoring or forgetting to acknowledge the input, contributions, and work of others.
A good boss always remembers to acknowledge and recognize the input of subordinates and team members.
It uplifts the spirits of the team when a boss publicly points out the good work and individual contributions that staff has done in making a specific project a success. It also strengthens collaboration and trust among the team.
Sharing credit with others does not cost the boss anything yet it has a high return on investment. When good behavior and performance is praised, acknowledged, and recognized, it is likely to be repeated.
This can lead to a snowball effect where the employees who have been appreciated keep performing better and better thereby increasing the overall success and contribution of a particular unit, department, division, branch, and the overall company.
"One of the toughest things for leaders to master is kindness. Kindness shares credit and offers enthusiastic praise for others’ work. It’s a balancing act between being genuinely kind and not looking weak." ― Travis Bradberry
9. Cares about the well-being of staff
A good boss genuinely cares about the happiness of his or her staff.
Some ways of caring about the well-being of staff include the following: providing good and safe working conditions; enabling career growth for employees; providing monetary rewards such as promotions, pay raises, and bonuses.
Providing good competitive salaries and benefits; opportunities for professional development and training; challenging work assignments and offering regular feedback and praise.
Other ways of caring about staff consist of valuing staff time by having fewer and relevant meetings; instituting and upholding a company culture with strong shared values and encouraging work-life balance.
Flexible work schedules; telecommuting; employee recognition and awards; and valuing employees as individuals and genuinely asking about the employee’s hobbies, interests, and family.
All these actions help to increase job satisfaction and show employees that their boss cares about them.
"Create caring and robust connections between every employee and their work, customers, leaders, managers, and the organization to achieve results that matter to everyone in this sentence." ― David Zinger
10. Respect employees
A good boss treats subordinates with respect.
On the flip side, bad bosses are disrespectful. Typical ways of disrespecting employees include yelling, shouting, sulking, losing your temper, bullying, blaming others, and not sharing credit.
Other forms of disrespect include indecision, avoiding conflict, unavailability, playing favorites, hiding relevant information, poor communication, gossiping, insincerity, over-delegation, too many meetings, selective and distracted listening, the ‘boss is never wrong’ attitude and forgetting promises that you had made to staff. A workplace with disrespect is toxic, unproductive, and fearful.
Good bosses earn respect from their employees by doing the right things such as holding employees accountable for their job, appreciating and praising subordinates, caring for staff, listening attentively, being available, having empathy, delegation, and trust.
Empowerment, good working conditions, being decisive, admitting mistakes, sharing credit, common courtesies, pitching in during critical times to help staff, and fighting for your employees’ privileges are all hallmarks of good bosses.
"I firmly believe that respect is a lot more important, and a lot greater, than popularity.” ― Julius Erving
11. 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. It also gives the employee a lens into the personal life of their boss.
12. Makes work fun
I believe that doing a job must be interesting. While working people must have fun and enjoy their job this will make you more productive. Incorporating fun activities, events, and organized play-time for employees gives them something to look forward to.
Things as simple as blue jean Friday or a lunchtime video game challenge can not only be fun – but also a great team-building exercise.
13. Empowers staff
Good bosses give staff freedom and authority to make decisions within certain tasks and areas of their expertise.
This enables employees to fix problems, come up with ideas and suggestions, and implement solutions without having to keep going back to the boss or supervisor to ask for permission.
This creates a liberating environment where employees can really shine and become top performers within their respective niches.
Employee empowerment can likewise lead to creativity and innovation where the staff figures out better, easier, faster, and efficient ways to do their daily processes.
"You have to enable and empower people to make decisions independent of you. As I’ve learned, each person on a team is an extension of your leadership; if they feel empowered by you they will magnify your power to lead.” ― Tom Ridge
14. Fosters team development
Diverse personalities and varying frames-of-references can make team interactions difficult. Great bosses have good team leadership 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.
15. Regularly praise off staff on a job well done
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 when asked, employees feel valued for being able to contribute their thoughts and opinions
16. Does not micromanage
The best way to show staff that you don’t trust them is to micromanage them. To constantly peer over their shoulders and watch their every move like a hawk.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes micromanaging as “to try to control or manage all the small parts of (something, such as an activity) in a way that is usually not wanted or that causes problems.”
Good bosses do not micromanage staff but it is important to note that there are situations where micromanagement is warranted such as during critical deadlines or when a staff member is new and the boss is taking time to learn the work habits and productivity of the new team member in order to determine how much autonomy to give the new staff.
Another area where there could be micromanagement is when an employee’s performance level is below expectations and the boss is working with them to remedy the situation.
17. Listens to employees and values employee perspectives
Employees do the work of the organization and ideal 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. So, In my views Bosses should listen to employees and should also consider their ideas and perspectives.
And when asked, employees feel valued for being able to contribute their thoughts and opinions.
18. 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.