6 Ways to Be a Better Boss

A boss can make or break an employee’s experience.

A boss can make or break an employee’s entire experience within a company. People can love their work but hate their boss and as a result end up hating their job. This can be a lot of pressure if you are new to managing people or are just undergoing some self-refection. The good news is that being a boss doesn’t have to be overly complicated. There are several things that you can do to build a positive relationship with your employees and thereby improve their productivity and morale.

Here are six ways to be a better boss:

1. Listen More

The first thing that you can do to become a better boss is to listen to your employees more. It is important to find a good balance between listening and talking as a boss. You want to make sure that your team can think for themselves and can work without your constant direction. You also want to make sure that they feel that they can approach you about concerns or ideas that they may have without you blowing them off or dismissing them. They might have good ideas that they just aren’t sharing with you if they don’t feel like they have the space and encouragement to share. It is important to make yourself available to discuss questions, ideas, and concerns from your team.

2. Make it Personal

Being genuinely interested in your employees’ lives and building personal connections with them will make you a stand-out boss. Once you get to know them personally, it will be easier for you to understand where they are coming from and react in a way that makes sense to them. It is also important for you to promote a positive work-life balance because your employees have lives outside of the office too. Show flexibility when it comes to scheduling, vacations, sicknesses, appointments or just general life events of your employees. Getting to know your employees personally will lead to mutual understanding and respect.

3. Provide Recognition

One of the chief complaints people have about bosses is that they do not provide them with enough recognition for their work. Some people really thrive off praise — which is why it’s important to get to know your employees to figure out what motivates them personally. Recognition costs you very little but can provide huge returns in morale.

Common ways to show recognition are through “employee of the month” programs that highlight your employees who go above and beyond. You could also offer gift cards and other incentives to people who deserve public recognition. Not only is this rewarding to those who earn it but it provides a little incentive for everyone to work towards. Finally, you need to make sure that you provide credit and recognition to those for their ideas instead of quickly dismissing everything, or worse — claiming it as your own. People will more readily share their ideas with you and look forward to your feedback.

4. Communicate Clearly

Communication — or rather, a lack thereof — is another common problem between bosses and employees. Sometimes there is too much communication that borders on micromanaging and other times there is too little communication that leads to confusion. At the end of the day, you need to be direct with people about what you want and request that they also be direct with you as well. By promoting effective communication between you and your employees, they won’t have to do any guesswork regarding what it is you want them to do and they won’t have to waste time sitting around trying to decipher what you meant or worry about not doing what you really wanted. High-quality communication can take a lot of stress off your employees and make them work more efficiently and confidently.

5. Be Realistic

Everyone has had an extremely unrealistic boss who expects you to be able to get a week’s worth of work done in one day. There’s nothing more stressful for an employee than to have a boss with unrealistic expectations. Of course, it can be difficult to find a common ground between high expectations and low expectations, but this is why communication with your employees is so important. Ask them what they think and how much time they need to get certain things done to come up with a system that works. After all, everyone works at their own pace and does things a little bit differently. You need to keep that in mind and set practical (and flexible) expectations for your employees to realistically meet in the timeframe you provided.

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6. Provide Feedback

The last thing that you can do to be a better boss is to provide feedback to your employees on a regular basis. Employees often complain that they really have no idea how they are doing in their position and they don’t know if their boss is satisfied with their work. Chances are you’re just busy but employees may interpret your lack of feedback negatively.

When giving feedback, it is important to discuss both the positive and the negative — the positive so that they are encouraged but also the negative too so that they know what they need to work on. A good employee will appreciate constructive criticism so that they can get better at their job and be a better employee — which is a win for you too. One good way to do this is to set up performance reviews — annually, biannually or however often you think is appropriate. Or if you want to take a more casual approach you can instead implement a check-in system where you are able to meet with employees one-on-one and provide feedback or discuss concerns on both sides.

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