The Trick to Being a Better Boss

Not everyone is great boss.  In reality there are probably very few people who would describe themselves as a great boss.  A great boss according to Steve Tobak of Inc. has the following traits:

Traits of a Great Boss

  • They hold themselves and others accountable.
  • They’re not full of surprises.
  • They fix things.
  • They have a feel for the business.
  • They get the job done.
  • They manage up and sideways effectively.
  • They’re awesome decision-makers.
  • They’re effective, not productive.
  • They live for their jobs.
  • They have a sense of humor, humility, and empathy.

Doesn’t Sound Anything Like You?

If the above sounds nothing like you.  And you’re pretty sure it never will, it’s time for Plan B. In a large company it’s possible to insulate yourself from the aspects of leadership that you know you lack by hiring managers who possess those qualities.  But what do you do when you’re the leader of a group of 10 or fewer employees?

This is a great time and place for well-defined office policies and procedures.  Yes, everyone understands that you are responsible if not for the creation at least for the implementation of “the policy”.  The policy manual should be read and signed as part of any job offer so that each employee understands the office policies and procedures. However the burden of responsibility to react to unreasonable, irrational or unrealistic requests from employees is shifted from you to “the policy”.  For example,

Request – “Dr. Jones, my sister is being married in Canada and I need 3 days before the wedding to travel.”

Response – “Congratulations to you and your family Jane, your personal leave time will cover 2 of those three days.”

The Good News

You aren’t required to become emotionally involved.  They’ve supplied a request, you don’t need to assess whether or not it’s reasonable or realistic.  The policy you have in place allows you to provide an answer.  They may not like the answer, but it’s hard to argue with a policy they agreed to from the start.

In the beginning there will be a learning curve as you begin to implement the policies.  Over time and especially with new employees deferring to the policy manual will become second nature.  Make sure to update the manual frequently as issues arise.  While you can’t foresee every conceivable circumstance that might arise, frequent updates will ensure that you come close.