Are you the boss everyone wants to work with?

Thursday , July 24, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Standard-Examiner contributor

“The key to being a good manager is keeping the people who hate you away from those who are still undecided.” ~ Casey Stengel

Unfortunately, employees tolerate a lot of bad boss behavior. Many bosses are untrained, uncaring, and not held accountable for their actions and interaction with employees. Bad management practices weigh heavily in whether employees enjoy working with you and stay working with you.

See if any of these practices spell out your actions and behaviors as a manager:

• You Don’t Know What You’re Doing. Are you competently providing the leadership employees need to succeed? Are you managing in a way that shows that you know what is going on in the organization? They have to be able to see that your department’s goals are part of something bigger and that they help move the something bigger forward.

• You Treat Them Disrespectfully. When you demonstrate a lack of respect for employees, you injure their feelings, their self-confidence, and their self-esteem. And will never garner their respect. When you talk over them, belittle their ideas, ignore their input, are condescending, demeaning, and criticize them unfairly, they feel disrespected.

• Work Is All About You. Are you the center of the employees’ world? Does everything start with you and end with you? Do you formulate expectations for employees based on whether their outcomes will make you look good? Do you chastise employees for errors or unmet goals because they made you look bad?

• You’re unprofessional. Are you unreasonable, selfish and manipulative in your behavior toward your staff? Do you think about their feelings or the impact of your decisions on their work? Do you tell tales about one employee to his or her colleagues in your department?

• You Over-Manage Good Employees. When you trust your employees and let them figure out how to accomplish their job, you call forth their significant contributions. If you micromanage and nitpick their ideas and work, you will never tap into the best they have to offer.

• You Don’t Know What They Are Doing. You don’t have to know how to do every employee’s job to be a good manager. But, you have to understand enough about their work to guide them. You need to communicate with them often enough to know how they are progressing and what challenges they experience.

• You Don’t Give Them Credit. Employees enjoy recognition and credit for their ideas and accomplishments. Not mentioning that the idea was from an employee is a bad call for a manager. Even worse is taking credit for their good work.

• You Don’t Have Their Backs. When you throw your employees under the bus, you will not recover. The minute an employee knows that, rather than supporting her, you blamed her, it’s all over.

All of these behaviors are unacceptable at work. Yet, they occur daily in workplaces worldwide. In the world of employees, a good boss is differentiated from a bad boss by the way the boss makes the employees “FEEL.” They also assess the boss based on his or her contribution and their ability to work together to get the job done successfully.

Most great leaders have these four traits in common:

1. Transparent: Transparency shows respect, trust, and a desire to involve all parties. Transparent leaders close doors less, think out loud, and narrate. They attempt to show as much as is reasonable while respecting confidentiality and security, and attempt to behave in a way that is honest. Transparency gives participants a view of the big and small pictures rather than a curated glimpse. It also says, “There is nothing to hide.”

2. Communicative: It’s almost impossible to be a great leader without being a great communicator. Excellent communicators know which form of communication, and where and when it works best for a situation. Before communicating a message, think, “What would be the best way for the receiver?” rather than what is the most expeditious or easiest for me? A great communicator paints a picture and speaks in the language of the listener.

3. Supportive: Great bosses don’t necessarily agree with their employees all the time, yet there is a spirit of wanting them to succeed and the willingness to help. Supportive managers fight for their staff and back them up even at the risk of not following the politics. This type of leader gives more credit than they take. They say “we” more than “I.” They have an appreciation that employees have lives outside the workplace and they show interest and flexibility around it. Their behavior says, “I’ve got your back.”

4. Approachable: People enjoy working for the approachable boss and they’ll share casual conversation and personal trials and triumphs with them just as they would a colleague. There is no fear and less anxiety when things are going wrong because trouble is shared. Employees feel they can be themselves around their boss. There is no fear of retribution or reprisal. Approachable leaders encourage interaction. Everything they do says, “Share with me.”

If you have these four traits, then you are most likely the boss everyone wants to work with. If you’re not, don’t dismay, leaders are sometimes born but mainly bred and raised, and it’s never too late to learn the appropriate skills and behaviors of great leaders.

Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from northern Utah. He can be reached at

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