Being a Great Boss: 9 Rules of Thumb for Fostering Company Culture
A great boss or manager is an essential part of any successful business venture. Here, we’ve assembled 9 rules-of-thumb to keep in mind for being a great boss and fostering positive company culture.
Many of us spend around a third of our lives at work, and it’s no secret that everyone enjoys work more when their boss is a positive aspect of the office environment. Keep in mind that above all, they key to your company’s success remains your business plan. Employees who enjoy their work environment and respect their supervisors are happier and more invested in their jobs. In short, everybody benefits from a supportive work environment. Thankfully, amid a supervisor’s already-numerous tasks and responsibilities, fostering a positive company culture is often best achieved by simply leading by example. Here, we’ve assembled important notions that will help you be a great boss for your team.
It’s important for a great boss to be able to see the big-picture — what are you and your team working towards with each of your seemingly smaller tasks and accomplishments? In order to lead your team (and the company) towards a common objective, it’s important for the boss to be able to keep his eye on the proverbial prize, and to communicate company goals in a way that makes objectives feel real for the team working to make it happen. Numerous studies show that an alarming percentage of the work-force isn’t actually clear on their company’s global mission or objective — making this clear is essential to your employees’ personal investment.
At the base of nearly all organizational blunders at the office lies a case of poor or unclear communication. As a boss, remain accessible to your employees and be sure that you communicate in more than one manner. If you send an email calling for an office meeting, be sure to include all necessary information, attachments, and individual assignments in the memo. Communication that becomes harried, voluminous, or involves too many voices easily becomes confusing for everyone involved. And above all, don’t rely solely on email — talk to your team, use visual aids (notes, post-its, etc.), and be sure that whatever message you meant to send to Karen was indeed sent, and received.
Listen with empathy
Not all “listening” was created equal. “Intuitive listening” involves a deeper kind of listening to your employees — when we actually focus on how someone speaks, we’ll sometimes find many layers of subtext. Often, people express themselves at work behind neutral vocabulary, but it’s never all that difficult to pick up on if you listen to your team members intuitively or empathetically. Body language and posture speak volumes, as does eye contact. By listening to your employees on an empathetic level, you’ll uncover hidden strengths and creative input from team members who feel they can dialogue openly with a supervisor who gets them. Intuitive listening also helps encourage employee growth by helping supervisors get a better grasp on where and how an employee can thrive.
Recognize Effort and Success
Thanking your employees for their contributions to a given initiative and congratulating their success is important for several reasons. First, and most obviously, people respond positively to affirmation — it tends to boost confidence and personal satisfaction, and can act as a good motivation for continued hard work and dedication. Second of all, it reinforces team bonds and the concept that every individual, not just the boss, is necessary to a given project’s success. Finally, remembering to thank your employees instills a positive horizontality in workplace relationships, which encourages clearer communication and cooperation. While this shouldn’t necessarily always be the rule, it’s often best to “praise in public, criticize in private.”
Keep it Constructive
Unfortunately, we can’t only congratulate our team members all the time. Occasionally, and for numerous reasons, sometimes an employee will stop showing the same enthusiasm or focus as before or you’ll find that someone’s work quality has fallen off the longer they’ve been with a company. Here, it’s important that a great boss keep communication open and to keep criticism constructive. Simply telling someone that they’re being lazy tends not to resolve the issue; informing them that you’ve noticed a lack of energy and proposing a couple time-sensitive assignments that need to get done may pique your employee’s interest. If someone can’t send an email without a handful of typos, inform them respectfully and in private, and suggest a method of proofreading they may find particularly helpful.
Sharing credit with your team members for collective successes, both with your team itself as well as with any other management bodies you may work with, is an important aspect of interpersonal respect in the workplace. Sometimes in collective efforts, individual contributions or creative problem-solving ideas can be forgotten or simply never acknowledged. Giving voice to who contributed what and being sure to attribute success to your entire team, not just yourself as its leader, is a cornerstone of building trust in the workplace, and it’s impossible to be a great boss without the trust of your team.
Studies have shown that management transparency is a far more important factor than one might expect in predicting employee satisfaction, and it’s an aspect of company culture that incurs zero costs for all its positive effects. Simply understanding who’s doing what, who is in charge of whom, and how one’s company works on a macro-level empowers employees and means that they can contextualize their individual role within the company and understand why their contribution counts. Employees report far greater trust levels in their workplace when management makes an effort to remain transparent, and trust is an essential factor in positive work culture and having your employees see you as a great boss.
Delegation is a major part of any great boss’ job, so it’s important to do so wisely. Communicating with your employees ties into this aspect of a management role — it’s important for you to have a certain grasp on each team member’s current workload as well as their personal strengths before you give them a specific task. Check in with your employee before handing off a new assignment, and listen intuitively to your employees response. A great boss doesn’t just hear exactly what an employee tells him or her, but seeks to understand the nuance behind each team member.
While empathy and intuition are indisputably important aspects of any great boss’ management style, it’s also important to be able to make decisions that will sometimes be difficult and will often need to be made efficiently. “Analysis paralysis” doesn’t fly in a leadership role in business — it’s important to keep the company’s “big picture” in mind and be able to make decisions firmly and fairly in order to keep the ball rolling.
A great boss possesses numerous qualities that make him or her an empathetic as well as productive person. Ultimately, many of the same traits that we appreciate in the rest of our day-to-day lives are also important to demonstrate as a boss. In even the most formal office environments, the feeling that one’s boss is genuinely on the same team builds trust and satisfaction at the workplace, which is, in turn, essential to company culture and productivity. Balance is important in all areas of office life, and while it’s sure that no boss can simultaneously run a company and be everyone’s best friend, working many of these tips into company culture is win-win for everyone.