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Home>> 8 Steps to be a good Boss
8 Steps to Being a Good Boss
by Mary Mitchell

Whether you've just been assigned your first assistant or have managed a team for years, your ability to do your job well can be enhanced by your relationship with subordinates.

And while every person and every dynamic is different, basic strategies will help you make the most of this relationship.

Follow this outline to lay out your team's goals, keep on top of them and improve their performance.

Remember, when they look good, you look good.
  1. Define the employee's role.
    Make sure your expectations of a worker's role in a team project or with individual responsibilities are clear and understood. Misinterpretations will result in wasted energy and time on both your parts. Begin your definition with the job description. If your employee doesn't clearly understand his or her basic responsibilities and job title, as well as how his or her role interacts within the team dynamics, you lose. The employee won't be effective, and this shortcoming could affect the entire team and its goals.

  2. Sketch out a more nuanced list of your expectations.
    That's the only way her performance can measure up -- if she has set goals to achieve. Expectations should include time frames for tasks and projects, deadlines and quality guidelines, and future areas of growth for her skills. Be certain that the standards you impose are realistic for her abilities and that you put them in writing.
    Communicate these expectations to the employee.

  3. Putting things in writing is the easy part. When it comes to one-on-one conversation, communication can break down. Most of us think that when we've said something, we have been understood. That's not always the case.
    My soundest advice here is to use "I" language. There is one word that will undoubtedly create a defensive reaction from the other person: You. Before I continue, do you understand? You do? Are you sure? Now, are you asking yourself, "Who does she think she is? I understand." I have put you on the defensive. And the moment someone becomes defensive, communication stops. She stops listening in order to plan her defense.
    If, however, I were to say instead, "I have been doing this for so long that I might not have been clear. Please let me know if I've skipped over any questions you might have had." Make "I" language a habit -- mark your calendar to begin today. Mark it each day for the next three to four weeks. At the end of this time, "I" language will naturally be part of your communication style.

  4. Praise in public, criticize in private.
    Criticism, by its very nature, is demeaning. It always should be done in private. Good news should be shared in public.

  5. Show respect for subordinate's ideas and contributions.
    When was the last time you thanked a subordinate for a contribution? When was the last time you wrote him a personal note of appreciation? Those investments have an enormous rate of return.

  6. Show by doing.
    We teach best through our best example. Whatever standards you hold for anyone else -- whether it's hours worked or number of times a report is checked and rechecked -- must be at least equally high for yourself.

  7. Check in with employees
    When giving instructions, ask the person to restate what she has heard. Remember, when you ask, "Do you understand?" 9 times out of 10 people will nod their heads and say, "Yes," even if they have no idea what you want.

  8. Help subordinates prioritize.
    When something is vital, let the employee know. Early in my career, one manager said to me, "I just want to emphasize the importance of performing this task every day before 5pm. It is just as important as if you were in the Army and held guard duty. You know what happened to people who fell asleep or deserted their posts ..." I remember nodding while he nodded along with me. Then he said, "Right. They were executed -- dereliction of duty." I got the point. Perform this task well or I was out of there.
    What he didn't say was that my failure to perform would reflect on him. If too many of his team failed to perform, it spoke more of his inability to manage than subordinates' inability to perform.

Thus is the privilege and the responsibility of managing others.

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