(As published in the Sunday Star Times, November 1, 2014: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/small-business/10685549/Three-ways-to-be-an-awesome-boss)
It’s obvious that people want to work with the best, right? The best colleagues, the best customers, the best suppliers and – most of all – the best boss. A good boss can make work an exciting place to be. They can motivate, they can inspire, and they can encourage growth – personally and professionally. But a bad boss? That’s the sort of thing that can hold a company back from achieving its full potential.
But what makes a good boss? It can be hard for some people to know who to model themselves on when they’ve never worked under a great boss themselves – sadly, a common scenario.
So here, in my working and business coaching experience, are 3 ways to be a good boss.
1. Encourage teamwork. In the same way that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to raise a business. No one can do it alone – we just don’t have the time, or skill sets, to do everything ourselves if we want to create a substantial company. You need to surround yourself with a team – and that team needs to act like one. Make it clear that you’re all on the same side, gunning for the same goal. Allow your teams to work collaboratively, rather than in isolation, so that all products and services are seamless and well thought through. Tony Hsieh, a man renowned for the company culture he has created at Zappos in the States, encourages their managers to spend 10 to 20 percent of their time outside the office with their team and the people they work with. As a result, Hsieh says, productivity and efficiency go up anywhere from 20 to 100 percent because “communication within departments is better and people are willing to do favors for each other, not just as co-workers but as friends.”
2. Give your team goals – and keep them accountable to them. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Your pay packet or your sense of purpose? Money isn’t everything to people – for a real sense of achievement, most people need a cause or a goal to work towards. Some people think that goals are demeaning and demotivating – but, in fact, they’re the opposite. Have you ever cajoled a child into doing a chore by saying you’ll time them? Suddenly, being measured and being noticed is all the motivation they need. It’s human nature – everyone needs to know that their part in the process matters, that their small cog helps turn the big wheel. Give your employees a goal to work towards, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Create a BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal) for your overall company and then smaller ones for your teams and employees. And then measure them so that everyone’s kept accountable and know that their contribution to the company matters. And when they reach that goal? Celebrate, of course – and thank them, publically if possible.
3. Be inspiring. You don’t have to be perfect to be a boss, but you do have to do your best. You want your charges to work like they own the company? Then you need to show that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in too. Lead by example – be enthusiastic, be relentless in striving for excellence and let everyone see that you personally live your company values. I love the story of how Walt Disney would stop on his walks through Disneyland to pick up litter he saw – it was a clear message that if it wasn’t beneath Walt to pick up rubbish, it wasn’t beneath his employees. You should do the same. Don’t lock your employees into a certain box – be open to them progressing through the company. Inspire them to grow, to reach for excellence and to have high standards in everything that they do.
Zac is a business coach, company director and corporate speaker. www.businesschanging.com