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written by
Jack Stratten

How to be a great boss

Boss holding cat

Bad relationships with managers are currently the main reason that people leave their jobs. And for small businesses, retaining good employees is absolutely essential for growth. So, what makes a good boss? Here are a few of the simplest and most effective ways of becoming a manager employees will love to work for.

Be clear and honest about what you expect

This might sound obvious, but managers frequently forget about this point. And yet nothing is more vital.

Your employees want to do good work, and work that’s valuable to your business. But if they’re not 100% sure about what they have to do, how can they?

Work out what you want and expect from your employees, and tell them up front. If your demands change, be clear about that too – you have to constantly remind yourself that your employees don’t necessarily know what you know. 

Take an interest in their personal lives

These days, the line between our professional and personal lives is increasingly blurred. And a recent survey found that 70% of employees think having friends at working is the most important part of a happy working life.

A real friendship is only possible if you get to know your staff as people. So, find time in your busy schedule to find out more about their personalities. 

Being nice is more important than being tough

The idea of the tough boss is one of the great management misconceptions. And that’s because, quite simply, employees leave tough bosses – not nice bosses.

There’s plenty of hard evidence to support this theory too, like this study from the Harvard Business Review. And for small businesses, being nice is especially important. When you’re too hard on one employee, there’s no hiding it from the rest of your staff.

Talk, and listen

Communicate with your employees as often as you can. Ask them how they’re doing, what they’re struggling with and any ideas they have for improving things.

Then listen – even if you don’t like what you hear. Your employee might be wrong, but they’re entitled to their opinion. And by opening up a dialogue, you’ll build trust and respect – two things you’ll definitely need to be a good boss.

Reward and recognise

When an employee does something good, you need to shout about it. Not recognising good work is incredibly damaging – employees are demotivated far quicker than they are motivated.

Even when an employee simply does their job properly, it’s important that you show that you notice. In today’s world where people change jobs so frequently, simply paying someone a salary isn’t enough.

Don’t micromanage

One of the trickiest things about being a boss – especially when you own a small business – is finding a balance between supporting your staff and giving them space.

It’s widely accepted that most employees need three things to be motivated: autonomy in their role, mastery of their skills and purpose in what they do. Micromanaging disrupts both mastery and autonomy – you can’t get better at your job if someone is constantly interfering.

And once again, not micromanaging shows that you trust your employees. And, as the old cliché goes, trust is the basis of any good relationship.


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