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3 Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Better Boss

Nolan Gray Staffing

If you’re a boss now or ever have been, you know what a minefield it can be. If you’re too friendly, people can take advantage and if you’re a touch cookie, you get grumbles behind your back. It’s a tricky task to inspire respect (and when need be, a healthy dose of fear), be taken seriously and yet not universally despised.

If you’ve written it off and opted to be the bad guy that gets the job done, the good news is you don’t have to be a black hat to be effective. While treating people well and doing your job may seem like common sense, it is really easy to make mistakes.  Chris Fields at The Cost of Work reminds us that “there is a lot more than just gut instinct that goes into being a good boss.”

And if you’re too nice and end up with your staff treating you like a doormat because being liked is paramount, we hope these tips can help you as well. Consider these recommendations for being a better boss:

Demanding boss

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Don’t Create Urgency for Sport

When I was a rank and file employee: I had a terrible boss who would send me an urgent task and then another and then another, with the unreasonable expectation that I could simultaneously produce the results he was looking for. Often when I did deliver the results, he was nowhere to be found – the ASAP demands were just a power play (or at least it felt like it).

Once I was the boss: I tried never to be the boy who cried wolf. If something is truly urgent, that’s okay, you can ask for ASAP results. But don’t pile on more than one urgent request at a time. Not everything needs to be done at this very moment and keeping your staff on pins and needles creates disharmony in the office and dislike of you as a boss!

Stick and carrot management

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Don’t Move the Yardstick

When I was a rank and file employee: I had another boss that liked to change metrics on whim so anytime you met a goal, he would move the target. His rationale was “If you can do that, you can do better…” The insulting assumption was that once the metric was met, we would slough off… This manager was much heavier on stick than carrot and thought that moving the mark outward was a motivator. Boy was he wrong. Turnover was a real problem in that department because there was no sense of accomplishment or appreciation.

Once I was the boss: Everyone that worked for me had goals and objectives. For admins, it was the number of resumes they processed per day (at a recruiting firm). For my bookkeepers, it was 100% timeliness of invoice issuance. When they hit the mark, they got kudos and when they exceeded their goals, there was a big public thanks. When the whole team hit goal, I offered a treat of Starbucks or smoothies. When people fell short, we had an aside about how to change things (although by going heavy on the carrot and patting them on the head along the way, I never needed much stick)!

Volatile boss

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Don’t Be Moody

When I was a rank and file employee: I had a boss who was very volatile. If he and his wife had an argument, he was rude to the staff. If he had a great morning, he was bubbly and heaped praise on. If he was down, he sulked, skipped meetings and ignored emails. When he walked in the door, IMs started flying, trying to assess his “mood du jour.” Frankly it was exhausting and turnover suffered as a result.

Once I was the boss: I found the simple fact was that I couldn’t bring excessive emotions into the office – bad or good. You don’t stafferwant to be angry, manic or morose. I always made sure to check anything at the door that could produce a “mood.” Your staff needs your constancy – if you’re upset, they’re upset – even if you’re not acting out or taking it out on them – so you need to  learn to silently sing “These are a few of my favorite things…” and paste on a convincing smile. In a nutshell: suck it up!

Three bad bosses

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Final Thoughts on Being a Better Boss

You may eagerly take credit for your best and brightest staffers, but what’s a more evocative measure of your performance as a boss is the performance of your worst. What? Yep. Because the best and brightest were probably pretty good before they landed under your leadership. But if you can motivate, inspire and improve those that aren’t stellar by nature, that lets you know how “boss” of a boss you can be!

And if you need one more reason to be nicer on the job – consider the recent case of “world’s first supermodel” and super meanie Janice Dickinson – karma caught up to her after years of pushing her staff around and now she’s in bankruptcy…

One of the best ways to be a good boss is to equip your staff with the best tools to make their workflow more efficient and automate administrative tasks that don’t make the best use of their time! Jobscience can help – check out our suite of award-winning HR tools to help with recruiting, onboarding, management and more!