17 Signs that You Are a Great Boss

We all like to think that we are good people to work for (well, most of us do), but is it true? I have been hearing from a lot of people abo
August 11, 2010

We all like to think that we are good people to work for (well, most of us do), but is it true? I have been hearing from a lot of people about bad bosses lately – maybe it’s the economy – and one thing I noticed is that few bad bosses actually see themselves that way.


So, which witch are you? The good, or the bad?


Here’s how to tell:


1. You don’t micromanage: There are few things more frustrating than the boss who not only is not happy with your work, but tells you how to do it to boot! Great bosses trust that the people they hire are smart enough to do their job, even if you might do it differently.


2. You know how to have fun: People work for all sorts of reasons, pay is just one. We work to learn new things, meet people, sharpen skills, get ahead, and yes, socialize and try to have a good time. The best bosses temper work with fun, knowing that the latter reinforces the former.


3. You push, but know when to back off: Employees usually want to be challenged to do their best, and if they like where they work, they will strive to give that. Great bosses are like great coaches – they know when to push and when to back off so as to draw out the best from their team.


4. You have good manners: Some of the items on this list are intuitive, others less so. Saying “please” and “thank you” may seem like a little thing but in actuality, it’s not. The boss who does not say please or thank you usually makes people feel crummy. Having some manners shows respect and garners respect.


5. You treat employees like adults: Good bosses know, for instance, that if Megan says she needs to come in at noon on Thursday, she probably has a good reason. The best bosses treat employees like adults and expect that they will act that way. This too fosters mutual respect.


6. You are fair: The hallmark of the bad boss is unfairness. He or she plays favorites, has strange priorities, and makes life difficult. The opposite is also true. The great boss treats people equally to the extent possible and make sure that the workplace makes sense.


7. You also make exceptions: Yes, fairness is important, but not everything and everyone is always equal; just like you have to respect the differences in your children, so too do you need to do so in your staff. For instance, one month, Phil may need to get all of the extra overtime hours due to his financial situation. Making exceptions, when appropriate, is usually the humane thing to do.


8. You reward good, hard work: Rewards can come in all sorts of forms. Monetary is best of course, but recognition for a job well done can sometimes be equally effective.


9. You create a team: Great businesses are ones where people get behind a goal and pursue it in unity. That requires a boss who can motivate the team, sell them on the goal, and lead them in that direction. Which also requires that…


10. You lead: You are not in business to be your employee’s best friend; instead, you are in business to create a business and make a profit. That requires that you have a vision for your business , sell people on that vision, and then lead them down the field in that direction.


11. You teach, and learn: The great bosses teach skills, business acumen, and sometimes, life lessons. They help employees get to the next level in their development. And by the same token, a really good boss knows what he does not know and is willing to learn some new tricks.


12. You listen: Bad bosses rarely listen. Good bosses always do. You may not agree with what you hear (and then again you might) but your people know that you are fair and are willing to hear out a different point of view.


13. You don’t engage in petty office politics: Good bosses don’t gossip (mostly!) They do not pit one person against another. They do not take credit for someone else’s work. They don’t feel threatened when someone makes a good suggestion.


14. You make people feel valued: Bad workplaces are typically apathetic places because the employees fell disconnected because they think that what they do and think does not really matter. In contrast, the great boss engages people so that they feel empowered, respected, and valued.


15. You set realistic, achievable goals: People who work for you know what is expected of them, period.


16. You criticize, and compliment too: A really good boss knows that both compliments and criticism are needed to keep the ship afloat and that too much of one or the other can throw things off-kilter.


17. You inspire: My best boss ever helped me realize, to quote the great Nathan Lane in The Producers, “There is more to you than there is to you!” The best bosses help people help themselves.


So, are you a great boss, or do you know one? Share your story below!