Remember the movie The Devil Wears Prada? In case you don’t, it’s the one where Meryl Streep plays the single minded magazine editor. She lives for her power within the fashion industry. She can make or break an upcoming designer’s career as well as the ones of her subordinates. Self serving and arrogant, she epitomizes the “bad boss”. She demeans her staff with a withering look and expects them to do whatever it takes to please her quixotic requests. Get a yet unpublished copy of J.K. Rowling’s latest Harry Potter tale by 3 p.m. today?
Hopefully, you’ve never had to deal a boss quite this arrogant but what kind of boss are you? If you don’t care to know, you should. Because your boss ratings have a high impact on your people’s productivity level and in your people’s level of loyalty. That translates back to you not only to dollars and cents, but also to unnecessary stress and wasted time.
In his new book, Good Boss Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst, Robert Sutton, Ph.D. explores what makes a good boss. In a nutshell, his findings can be summed up as good bosses are considerate, set specific goals and get changes implemented. No surprise there when you think about it.
Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School. He bases his research on 30 years of academic research and experience. In his book, he shares some really diabolical stories, including the boss who lambasted his salesman for being “lazy” and a “F—up”. This, after the salesman was undergoing chemo for leukemia. He contrasts such horror stories with bosses who roll up their sleeves and get to work beside their employees.
His premise includes that good bosses communicate with their staff. Both in an informal “get to know you way” and in a “giving instructions” kind of way. Greg Brenneman, chairman of CCMP Capital, illustrates this idea of communication in a March 2009 NY Times interview. A “turnaround man”, Brenneman was at Continental Airlines from 1996-2001. He tells of a voicemail they’d leave for the staff every Friday. It was an update of the changes. “Here’s what we told you we were going to do, here’s what we did, and here’s where we’re headed next week.”
That kind of information shared with the entire company is one hallmark of a good boss. It shows consideration to keep everyone in the loop. Especially during a time of change or a tough economy like the one we’ve all experienced these last few years. What kind of boss are you? Whether you have one staff member or 50, how do you keep the doors open to effective communication?
Yes, even as a business coach I know it sounds simple, but as many things in life, it’s harder than it sounds to live up to these principles. Think about yourself. Are there instances where you could improve on any of them? Do you really know what’s bugging your staff? Don’t assume they will tell you if you don’t actually ask them. Do you encourage an environment of open communication or are you so focused on keeping all your balls in the air that days go by without your having any meaningful interaction with your staff? One critical habit to develop in your staff management practices is to schedule regular 1-on-1 meetings with all your people (for smaller organizations) and for larger teams 1-on-1’s with your key people, plus regular staff dept meetings (or even email check-in’s) with the group. And, don’t allow your meetings to be a gathering for you to be doing all the talking. These gatherings are a whole lot more telling when you’re doing a lot of the asking.
Ok, so on the one end of the spectrum you do want to take inventory as to how well you project that you truly do care and that you are a boss who listens. As the saying goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
However, on the other end of the spectrum are business owners and CEO’s who I coach to please stop being so nice! It’s killing your people’s productivity! For many leaders I have to remind that you’re not here to win a popularity contest or to be liked and adored by the people you have to manage. Your decisions and your behavior must be led by the measuring stick of what will move the company forward. As the boss you need to manage your people’s behaviors as either an asset or as a liability to your company. If you are tolerating behavior and/or performance mostly because you simply want to stay loved by your people, then I would just say, go get a dog for that! The fear of losing your likeability factor with your people should never hold your back from doing the tough work of running a tight ship. It’s not whether your people like you, but whether they respect you. It’s respect that holds boundaries.
Knowing how you measure as a boss is the first place to begin if you want to motivate higher productivity and greater loyalty from the people who work for you. I invite you to take my free GOOD BOSS-BAD BOSS ASSESSMENT Questionnaire. Email me your interest at [email protected] or call me direct at 215-292-4947.
Here’s to your success!
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Go ahead! As long as you give full author attribution as follows:Business Growth Expert Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of CEOs, entrepreneurs & small business owners achieve dramatic results in sales, productivity and profits. Over the past 20 years, Yoon has started 4 other companies and sold 3 of them. She is the author of numerous articles published in major print media and magazines. She is also a popular keynote speaker. Get Yoon’s free video “How to Find Your WOW Factor” at http://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com. Call Yoon direct at (215) 292-4947.
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