Like the article says, “first-time managers are generally nightmares to work for.” People get promoted because they do a job well, not necessarily because they are good managers. In a particular place I was in, promotion was a strategy to retain talent to tackle high attrition. There was a flaw in it though: the ‘managers’ aren’t adequately quipped with training and skills to manage people.
Everyone would have their fair share of experiences with bad bosses. Luckily for me, I’m really thankful for my manager (at least it’s been like that for the past few months). I guess the numerous years of managing experience helps. When he initially started, he probably wasn’t as good as he is now. But I thought I’d share some traits of what makes a good boss, from what I’ve observed, in my opinion:
1. Feedback, feedback, feedback
If someone is not performing up to expectations, take time to communicate. Put in effort to find out what is wrong, provide training and guidance instead of just dismissing him without giving proper feedback.
People aren’t mind readers – it’s hard to assume or guess your thoughts. If something needs to be changed, say it. When they have done a good job, praise them – no need to be stingy with your compliments. Give them credit for their work and don’t steal it.
2. Be willing to teach – you are a mentor
Probably your subordinate doesn’t do his job as well as you do. It is not practical to have high expectations if someone is just two months into the job.
When you correct someone, let them know what you’ve amended so they know which areas to pay more attention to. Don’t play “Spot the Difference” then tell them “they suck”. It’s just not fair.
Better still, my boss first tells me what I’ve done right (and should continue doing), and then shows me ways of how I can improve my current work (even though my work isn’t wrong, phrasing it differently is such a tactful way of ‘correcting’ someone).
3. Connect on a personal level
No – I’m not referring to befriending each other on Facebook, then changing your privacy settings to block the other person entirely to see nothing on your timeline. Pssh. (I’ve received that kind of treatment before.)
Don’t judge. Take time to know what kind of person your subordinate is. Take the opportunity to let your subordinate get to know you. Listen to each others’ hobbies, life experiences, and thoughts. Do it over a simple lunch.. 1 to 1, or in a team. Your way.
4. Reinforce their work is significant
Help them see why they should enjoy their work, how their work impacts the success of the company and how they are a part of it. Let them know why their work is important.
So here’s what I’ve been told: even though my work involves internal communications, it carries an impact enables change. It has the power to change the way people think and feel.
He even links it to the evolution of the high jump. Early jumpers approached the bar straight on… it slowly evolved to the straddle technique where the jumper leans sideways and lands on cushion. This innovation allowed more breaking records to be made. However, the often untold story is the part where the cushion was introduced. Early jumpers often suffered from injuries due to the impact of the jump, hence cushions were placed as landing pads to soften the impact. Had there be no cushion, the straddle technique might never have been thought of. Very interesting story, I thought.
5. Be likeable and human
Understanding the power of storytelling, my boss shares stories that touch the heart. He tells me of times when he was less motivated, and how I motivated him with a success story I had. It’s great that he could be frank and show that no one is 100% motivated all the time, so we’re there for each other.
During a wooden block breaking session at a workshop, everybody in the room broke the board using their hands but I had to break it using my feet -_- In my head, I remembered it as “I didn’t break it” even though I did. Perhaps it just wasn’t the success that I wanted but my boss reminded me that there is not just one route to success and that I did it my way. (lol) I guess it works too.
In my first week at work, he assigned me a buddy who then introduced me to his other team members. He invited a lady to go to lunch with me for fear that I’d be alone.
If he holds me back after work, he DOES NOT assume that I should be staying late. He first checks if I have any appointment to go to.. (knowing how most subordinates would just seal their lips and curse and swear in their own heads) In fact, he even asked I would like a ride to the nearest station.
Being human is really one of the simplest things, yet so hard to naturally be. The world would be so much more kind if we were all more thoughtful.