Employees don't leave companies; they leave bosses. You may have heard this old business adage before. But what types of bosses do people leave? And, more importantly, are you one of them?
I once (very, very briefly) worked for a company where my department vice president didn't allow employees to speak to him or even make eye contact with him without first setting up a meeting with his assistant. Then he would be hours late for the meeting because he went to lunch (not caring about the employee waiting for him in an empty conference room with her own stomach rumbling).
Since this work stint happened firmly in the era of executives wearing torn jeans and hoodies to work and not in a 17th century royal palace, I found the practice somewhere between hilarious and soul-crushingly offensive. I made it three whole months in this position, which was, not surprisingly, about the average duration that most people worked for him.
Better boss basics: Take off your crown, step off your throne and get to know your employees as fellow human beings, not subjects of your royal court. A true leader works next to their team, not above them.
The missing person
We're all busy people but part of the job of a manager is to guide your team. You can't do this if you're not around. While it's important to hire professionals who are resourceful and skilled enough to do their job without much hand-holding, there are times when they will need you to point them in the right direction.
Being a manager is hard work and not everyone has the aptitude or desire to do the job. If you take on the role of a boss, you must be ready to invest time for your team into your busy schedule, especially with a newer employee. Time management, organization and patience are immensely helpful skills for any boss.
Better boss basics: Schedule weekly one-on-one time with each of your direct reports and stick to it! A regular half-hour meeting to touch base, brainstorm and answer questions can go a long way toward keeping your team on track.
The "do as I say, not as I do" manager
You ever hear anybody say that it's best to lead by example? That's because it's true. If you want your customer service team to consistently provide an exemplary customer experience, you must be the example of stellar service. If you want high-end products from your software development employees, then you must display your own commitment to quality and craftsmanship. If you cut corners, have a bad attitude or get lazy in your job duties, you can expect the same from your employees.
A true leader would never ask anything from their employees that they aren't willing to do themselves. But it's about more than being willing to do those things you ask it's about actually doing them. Long-term, you can expect even your most dedicated employees to be about 3/4 as committed to the task as you are. This means that if you want 100 percent from your employees, you should be giving at least 130 percent.
Better boss basics: Setting an example is one of the harder skills for many managers to master. It's a lot of work to constantly be "on." This is where open, honest communication with your employees can be helpful. Make it a point to regularly ask them for feedback about areas where you may need to improve or ways you could do a better job both as a manager and as an employee of the company.
This two-way-street method of communicating with your direct reports not only helps you improve in your own performance it then re-inspires your staff to step up their own game.
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