Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Work smart: The good boss

October 10, 2010

To become a boss just requires the approval and trust of the higher management but to become a truly good one requires the trust and loyalty of your subordinates. Great bosses have this innate quality of being leaders, friends, teachers, coaches and sources of inspiration, all in one. People who have worked or are working under the supervision of a good boss light up with joy and speak about them with praise and reverence.

The reason being that such bosses can shape and advance your career in ways you never thought possible thereby changing your life in the process. If you find yourself filling a boss’s shoes, remember the following key points that will steer you towards becoming a good boss.

Be a good communicator

A good boss always communicates effectively and explains tasks and assignments accurately and precisely to his/her team, including the expected results, the execution, the deadline, and anything else that would help employees in completing the task at hand. He/she is also a mentor to his/her employees and helps them grow and develop to be the best that they can be.

Protect your team

In the article titled, The boss as human shield (Harvard Business Review, September 2010), Robert I. Sutton, a professor at Stanford University, writes, “They (bosses) take pride in being human shields, absorbing or deflecting heat from inside and outside the company… and battling idiots and slights that make life harder than necessary on their people.”

As a boss your team is your responsibility whether you like it or not and their actions ultimately hold you accountable. At times their negligence can put you in a very awkward situation leaving you with two choices, shield the errant or use him/her as a shield. Choosing the latter may temporarily protect you but it is the former which will win you the respect and loyalty of your entire team. Rest assured a loyal team will go the extra mile to achieve the desired results that will eventually make you look good.

Don’t pick favourites

A good boss is a fair boss. Employees expect managers to treat everyone fairly. For example, if you bend the rules for one employee due to a special situation then you must act consistently when a similar situation occurs with another employee. This creates a perception of fairness and not a perception of favouritism.

Giving a particular employee too much attention or ‘office time’, maintaining double standards in your treatment towards employees when they do something wrong and actively supporting one and ignoring the rest are just some of the ways you can create divisions within your own team.

Engage your team

A good boss wants his/her subordinates to use their knowledge, creativity, skills and authority to produce results allowing them to take decisions without consulting him on every minor issue. He avoids micromanaging his subordinates and trusts them, intervening only when something contrary to the trust or contrary to the expected result occurs. Such a boss creates a challenging environment where employees can unleash their true potential and contribute to the ‘bottom-line’ of the business.

Praise them in public but critique them in private

Praise is the most effective form of feedback and a powerful motivator. Let’s face it, all employees want to be recognised when they do something praiseworthy. Make a habit of recognising good performance, hard work, and improvement. A good boss knows that praises should be done in public while criticisms should always be kept private so that the employee’s self-respect, dignity and confidence are left unscathed. Mistakes in the workplace should result in correction and not retribution.

One of the main reasons cited by researchers behind people leaving their organisations is their relationship with their boss. Only in a perfect world would all bosses be perfect. Employees are not looking for the perfect boss, just one that understands them and treats them fairly. In return they are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the task is completed in a timely manner and to the best of their ability. If you find it difficult to be a good boss then try not to be a bad one either.