I’ve been helping business leaders achieve for more than two decades. I’ve worked with leaders who were trusted, admired and wildly effective. I’ve also helped leaders who made mistakes – the kinds that turned their employees against them – recover their reputation and find success.
I firmly believe that no one wants to be a bad boss. But studies show that there is plenty of unhappiness in the workplace. Three out of four employees report that their boss is the worst and most stressful part of their jobs.1
There are many reasons for this. Sometimes leaders get so hyper-focused on business goals that they forget that they’re humans working with other humans. Other times, leaders just don’t have the managerial training to bring out the best in employees. And yes, sometimes those bad bosses are just in over their heads.
Find out if you’re a good boss.
- Do you think demanding action will increase productivity?
One mistake that many well-intentioned leaders make is acting like a drill sergeant. Nothing creates conflict with employees faster than a leader barking orders. In fact, these actions often have the opposite effect. People can be bullied into performing tasks, but only employees who feel respected and connected can help you outperform your competition.
- Do you provide incentives?
Employees who benefit from a company’s success are much more likely to put forth maximum effort. But be careful not to focus only on revenue or customer satisfaction. Employee productivity is better influenced by W.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me?) In addition to bonuses, offer perks such as additional time off, job flexibility or continuing education. Some companies even offer tickets to sporting events or vacations at a company timeshare.
- Do you give people a voice?
No one knows the troubles brewing in your organization better than your frontline employees. Good bosses regularly ask their teams for feedback on the company’s direction, products and services. The fact that you asked their opinion provides a sense of partnership, which encourages job satisfaction and helps reduce workplace conflict.
- Do you show your personal side?
Employees need to feel that they work for a leader who respects and cares about them. Take the time to get to know your team. A gesture as simple as asking, “How are you doing?” goes a long way to creating good will.
- Do you encourage work-life balance?
In a recent employee-satisfaction survey, respondents placed a high degree of importance on family and community. You can boost employee job satisfaction by encouraging – and modeling – a balanced life. Consider enacting policies that give employees flex-time to attend school functions or volunteer in their communities. Then actively ensure they are taking advantage of these policies.
Before you act . . .
Even natural-born leaders need help to bring out the best in people. The best bosses recruit others to help build a positive workplace. These teams act as cultural ambassadors and can assist in developing strategies to continually improve the office environment.