I have just made a mental list of all the bosses I have had in my forty years of work. Some were pretty good; others were simply awful. Nowadays, the latter are also in the majority. One survey has found that 77% of employees are stressed out at some point, because their bosses are bad!
Then, suddenly I found that I was a manger myself, so I became acutely aware of what makes a good boss. The greatest challenge was in managing staff and using my people skills effectively.
Here are 20 signs that you got a good boss.
1. Your boss reassures you
This may take the form of encouragement and stimulation to do even better. They both go hand-in-hand and the results from employees can be impressive. Once you are reassured that you are on the right track, then you can achieve anything.
2. Your boss does not micromanage
If a boss ignores the above quote, the likelihood is that he will not get much done. Employees’ reactions to micromanagement can range from demotivation to a feeling that they will never be allowed to work on their own. The boss who indulges in this feels he knows best and cannot trust the employee fully.
3. Your boss appreciates your skills
A great boss will soon become familiar with people’s talents and skills. It is a great asset when delegation has to be done. She will dedicate one-on-one time to finding out about what you enjoy most at work, your ambitions, and where you are headed. This fits neatly into skills training and, hopefully, promotion. You feel that you know where you are going and so does your boss.
4. Your boss can take the blame
Sometimes, a bad boss will do everything to shift the blame on to an unfortunate team leader or member, when the faulty decision was definitely his. Now the good boss will admit mistakes and openly walk staff through the analysis of failure and the lessons to be learned. He is a great model for employees to follow and this will discourage them from playing the blame game.
5. Your boss is friendly and approachable
We have all had difficult and bad tempered bosses, not to mention autocratic and mean ones as well. If your boss is friendly and approachable it really helps you to discuss a problem or how to solve a particular issue which is bothering you.
6. Your boss can communicate effectively
You know exactly what you have to do and by when. Your boss has explained it all to you and this makes meeting the deadline much easier. Problems arise when a bad boss is hopeless at communicating.
7. Your boss keeps meetings to a minimum
Guess what really grates on people’s nerves? Yes, you guessed it—all those endless and often, useless meetings. Workers feel that meetings should be used for brainstorming and reporting on progress. They should help, rather than hinder productivity. Good bosses know that and put it into practice.
8. Your boss focuses on small wins
Employees are encouraged when the boss notes the small wins or baby steps towards the big goal. A great boss will make sure that workers are thanked, whether it is an email or a phone call. It works every time and motivation shoots up.
9. Your boss is an active listener
Many bosses make the mistake of talking far too much and stifling staff contributions. Employees sit still and are sullen. A great boss will defend her stance when she knows she is right but will also be able to listen when she thinks she may be in the wrong.
10. Your boss does not know it all
Not claiming total knowledge is a great attribute because it is what the psychologist, James Meacham, describes as the “attitude of wisdom.” These bosses are aware that there is an ideal balance between knowing and doubting. This is reflected in the workers who feel that they will be consulted and encouraged to offer innovative ideas, when appropriate.
11. Your boss does menial tasks
Many bosses, once they rise to the dizzy heights of executive level, would never dream of dirtying their hands with menial tasks. But a really good boss knows what exactly is going on and is prepared to do even boring jobs. It is an excellent way of keeping in touch with reality in the workplace and is a also a great way to bond with staff.
12. Your boss is prepared to coach
Some bosses never really want to dirty their hands with actually coaching workers on how to do certain jobs. They feel that workers need to learn themselves. Yet the secret of wise management is that the good boss knows when to step in and teach and when to be just a helpful presence on the sidelines.
13. Your boss gives immediate feedback
Workers want feedback and they need it immediately whether they have screwed up or succeeded. That is when they really appreciate it and not months later at the performance assessment.
14. Your boss creates a constructive atmosphere
If you really feel part of the team and know that respect, integrity and trust are actually put into practice, then you have a good boss. The boss will be the driving force in creating this atmosphere which in turn will lead to higher morale and greater motivation.
15. Your boss is flexible
Because your boss takes a personal interest in her workers’ lives, she will be much more willing to allow for flexible working arrangements when family matters need more attention. You will naturally feel more valued and more committed.
16. Your boss is not afraid of empowerment
Some bosses steer clear of empowerment as they feel that workers could start to run the whole company. Insecure bosses want to stay in control. But a good boss knows that by encouraging staff to make changes to improve services, production and finances, then it will be a win-win situation for everyone.
17. Your boss is empathetic
Empathy is an essential human quality and goes over and above taking an interest in the employee as an individual. The good boss’s perceptions of what people are going though is paramount to building a great team. He is not just a figurehead playing a role but rather a person who is fully tuned into his five senses in understanding what is going on around him. Watch the Financial Times video where Valerie Gaultier explains all this.
18. Your boss is fair
You can spot a bad boss immediately if she is surrounded by a clique of favorite persons who may be brownnosers, overly ambitious or just simply trying to get one up on their colleagues.
Treating everyone equally is the hallmark of a really good boss. Workers feel appreciated and they know that everyone is treated fairly.
19. Your boss does not participate in office gossip
Some office gossip is harmless but more often than not, it is misused to damage people’s reputation and cause fear, resentment and envy. A good boss sets the example by refusing to get involved in spreading any gossip. She will be a role model to follow.
20. Your boss stays cool in a crisis
Crises happen. There may be an emergency, a drop in customer orders or the threat of industrial action. A bad boss may shut himself off and refuse to involve staff as he thinks he can solve the problems. Fear and distrust are usually the result, not to mention a reduction in staff morale.
A good boss knows that he will have to take the staff into his confidence by asking for help and ideas. The best way to get the staff’s commitment is to invite suggestions, solutions and to move forward although there may be painful decisions to be made.
If your boss meets all these criteria, you should stay. If you are a boss and you can’t tick off all the boxes, then it may be time for some self-assessment.