Monday, 9 April 2012

5 things great bosses don't do

According to, below are five no-no's for anyone that prides themselves on being a commendable boss:

#1: Say "I've been meaning to apologize for a while." 

You should apologize on the spot for a wrongdoing. Stalling on this means you're reluctant to admit being wrong.  You immediately lose all respect when you are pig-headed and adamant about being right all the time.

#2: Annual performance reviews of your staff

Feedback should be given in digestible bits rather than letting your employee wait for a year before dropping a big bombshell on them. It's easier for them to act on daily/weekly feedback rather than getting a pile of suggestions at one meeting.

#3: Hold formal meetings to solicit ideas

If a manager/boss is someone approachable, their employees will come to them with ideas before any meeting can be called.  This is a very simple way to assess how much your employee feels you value their input: Do they come to you with ideas without you having to ask?

#4: Create development plans

Mapping a way forward to grow employee skills and experience is traditionally too formal.  A formal development plan I will concede does allow development to be a measurable process that is tracked and understood by both manager and subordinate.  The problem comes in however when this development plan on a piece of paper becomes a fixed road map that cannot be deviated from.  Even worse is when the employee's performance is being measured by how much of this often arbitrary development plan they are satisfying.  Employees have to develop their skills while working and performing their usual duties, so don't burden them by making their development plan a do-or-die affair.  Allow some slack and let each employee develop at their own pace.

#5: Use guilt to call in favours

If you give your employee a concession to leave work early or take on some of their work when they are sick, don't use that as bargaining leverage when you want them to say, work overtime.  Granting concessions must be done without expecting anything in return.  Be giving because it's good to give, not in anticipation of a return from your human capital.

Maybe I've been exposed to the wrong set of people, but I have yet to come across one manager or director who can pass all five of the above hurdles.  I agree that every one of these (except  #4 maybe) is a cardinal sin and can only hope I myself am steering clear of them when people report to me.  But I think finding a boss that isn't guilty of any of the above is nigh impossible in the real world.  They themselves have too much on their plates to put such esoteric suggestions into practice.

Best to be your own boss then.

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