Is your organization full of a bunch of bosses – or is there a super boss or two out there?
Nearly every organization needs more super bosses – the kind who engage and inspire employees. But we aren’t talking about bringing in doughnuts from time to time or cracking a joke here and there.
The best bosses skip the superficial stuff because they know how to build a healthy culture and create positive work experiences.
Super bosses set the stage
“Super bosses have mastered something most bosses miss – a path to extraordinary success founded on making other people successful,” says Sydney Finkelstein, researcher and author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent.
Here’s what Finkelstein found top-tier leaders do differently. We’ve included tips on how you and front-line managers can incorporate the behaviors into management practices within your organization:
1. Manage the person, not the team
The best bosses recognize that employees are unique with varying interests, abilities, goals and learning styles. They strive to understand each person and manage him or her based on his or her individuality.
On the contrary, most bad bosses berate or discipline entire teams when one person has violated formal rules or informal, generally accepted practices. Or they praise a group when a single team member deserves the credit for a win.
Tip: Don’t just be available for one-on-one conversations. Schedule them. Roll up your sleeves and work with employees when they need help. There’s hardly a better way to get to know them individually than working side-by-side. Also, be conscientious of public praise and reprimand. If either is the result of an individual effort, keep it private. (In the instance of praise, ask the employee if you can follow up with public praise to help bolster morale and share best practices.)
2. Emphasize meaning
Many bosses spend a lot of time delegating work, overseeing tasks and keeping assignments in order.
The best bosses focus less on housekeeping and more on what the work means – to the company, customers and employees’ careers.
That’s critical because employees value jobs that let them contribute to the greater good. And super bosses want to foster that level of engagment.
Tip: Inspire employees by regularly reminding them of their purpose – how their work directly impacts colleagues, customers and the company’s success. Pump up their confidence until they know they will exceed goals.
3. Give more feedback
Super bosses are relentless with feedback.
While many bosses limit feedback to the poor practice of annual or biannual performance reviews, great leaders have one-on-one conversations at least weekly (yes, once a week!)
Tip: If you embrace weekly talks, be sure to involve clear, honest and constructive feedback that promotes independence and initiative. Take time to also learn about and understand employees better so you can improve your ability to manage them.
4. Get more feedback
Super bosses believe that getting employee insight is as important as giving them feedback.
Employees are happiest when they can offer ideas and take initiative – and know their boss is willing and eager to let them.
Tip: Pose company or department problems and challenges (that are appropriate for employees to know), and ask questions that prompt them to generate solutions. Try: “If there were no resource limits, how would you fix this?” Or “How have you handled similar situations to … ?”
Super bosses remain consistent in their management style. That doesn’t mean that their attitude never swings a little or their approach doesn’t evolve.
It does mean that they stay true to the vision, expectations and even-keeled behaviors they have established.
Tip: Be consistent in your behaviors, and when change is necessary, acknowledge it quickly and move forward in the fashion you promise.