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Become a beloved boss

Become a beloved boss
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If you’re in a boss role at work, you undoubtedly know that there’s a stigma around bosses, and a stereotype that people complain about their bosses constantly. In fact, you may very well have had a boss that you weren’t wild about yourself. While it’s exciting that you’re in this new role, you’ll surely want to avoid being considered a boss-zilla. Here are some great tips from real bosses to make the people you’re managing appreciate you.

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Know your people

Know your people
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In addition to recognising the traits of a good worker, being familiar with your employees’ strengths is crucial. “If Tom is a great cashier, and customers love him, don’t have Tom in the kitchen. You need Tom to be energised, and energising others through his work,” says Kevin B. Donovan, of human resources firm Otsuka-People. Donovan stresses the need for bosses to know their employees, both on the job, and off. That means spending time observing their strengths and weaknesses, so that you can best harness their talents. Think of these strengths as beauty points, he says, and bosses need to find their own, as well. “You must explore ways to provide your employees with an environment to demonstrate those beauty points. I have experienced too many bosses looking to always make improvements in competencies, and capabilities, that will only be temporary at best, and never make a difference in our contributions to the business,” he says. Find what your employees do best, and they’ll always make you look good. Help them maintain a solid life-work balance, and they’ll be loyal forever.

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Think like an employee, act like a manager

Think like an employee, act like a manager
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Your employees want promotions, and you want to be noticed by your boss, as well. Think like an employee to be a great boss, says sales and marketing expert Jerry Acuff. “Employees want us to care about them. They want us to help them succeed. The best way to do that is by providing competent job instruction, combined with providing your workers independence in doing their job,” he says. Keep in touch with the things that mattered to you when you were an employee, such as praise for a job well done, and make a point of providing those things. “Fall in love with your people. You have been entrusted with one of the most important responsibilities in life – helping someone else succeed,” he adds. Remember that, and you’ll always have your staff’s devotion.

Be inspirational

Be inspirational
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Anyone can boss other people around, but it takes true skill to inspire. The best way to be an inspirational leader at work is to feel inspired yourself. Love your work, look for ways to make it better, and then look for ways to make it amazing. Instill that desire and drive into your employees, and they’ll fight for you. “People want to work for a leader, not a boss. Boss spelled backward is double SOB,” jokes Acuff.

Be the fixer

Be the fixer
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It’s the most common cliché in the workplace book – the boss passes the buck (and the blame) whenever something goes wrong. That’s OK: Work, like life, is filled with mistakes, and mishaps. Some are minor, some are serious, but all present lessons that bosses, and employees, can learn from. Don’t be the boss that flies off the handle when a mistake is made, or, even worse, blames their employees for their own foibles. “Communication, and providing clear instructions, can nip lots of problems in the bud. For everything else, be the boss that fixes the problem, rather than the one that fixes blame on someone else,” urges performance improvement specialist Linda Harris-Cosby of Harris Training and Consulting. One key way to fix problems? Always be honest with your employees and yourself about what went wrong, and make sure to provide solutions on how to fix it. That way, everybody wins.

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Let’s be friends – not

Let’s be friends – not
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If you’ve been promoted, and are now leading your former peers, you’re in a potentially sticky spot. Some people on your staff may feel resentful. Others may hope to capitalise on your former chumminess. As the boss, it’s your job to lead your team, not to pal around with them. “Don’t pretend you’re something you’re not. Don’t try to be friends with your team, but rather, understand and respect that the role of a leader is challenging, for both you and for them,” cautions Donovan. Just keep the boundaries clear, don’t show favourites at work (or over-compensate by giving your friend the cold shoulder), and make sure everyone understands the new game plan.

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Pay attention

Pay attention
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The only way you can stay ahead of the curve is by maintaining clear, consistent communication with your employees. This means letting them know you’re approachable and also taking the time to schedule regular sit-downs. Executive career coach Natalie Currie recommends committing to a schedule of monthly meetings with your most significant employees and keeping this time sacred. “Protect this time in your calendar. During one-on-one meetings, remove all distractions that might keep you from fully engaging in the conversation. Hold the meeting in a quiet space, and silence your technology. A distracted boss is a demotivating boss,” she says. Make sure to spend the bulk of this time really listening, so that your employee feels heard, and motivated to contribute.

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Be a strength-spotter

Be a strength-spotter
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Nothing is more likely to turn a good worker into a resentful one, than pointing out their weaknesses, over and over again. “As a species, we are quick to notice mistakes and weaknesses in others. Wrong-spotting is even more pronounced when people are under stress. Continually pointing out weaknesses is a sure-fire way to elicit defensiveness in employees,” says Currie, who recommends strength-spotting, instead. “This is a simple, easy, highly effective way to bring out the best in your staff. There is a wealth of social science evidence to show that we grow most in our areas of strengths. Catch your people when they are doing something good, and the more specific and timely the praise the better. It only takes a few seconds to acknowledge when someone does something good. Practise this daily, and you will reap significant benefits in team engagement and productivity,” she adds.

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Let go of the reins

Let go of the reins
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Currie suggests taking 5 per cent of the tasks you’re currently responsible for and delegating them to your most trusted employees. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘It’s simpler to do it myself,’ and stay in the office, working late. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are protecting your team by taking on all of the work. In reality, you’re stifling your team’s growth, and depriving them of new learning experiences,” Currie says. You’ll need to make an investment in time up front by coaching your team, but letting them go the distance enables them to rise to the occasion, just as you once did. As an added benefit, you will have more time and energy freed up for your most important work.

Accountability counts

Accountability counts
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Your employees want to shine. So make them accountable for their own workload, goals and responsibilities. “Unfortunately, many bosses tend to dictate what will be done, how it will be done, and when it will be done. This didactic method greatly reduces the interest, and motivation, of people to be accountable for their own work,” says Donovan. He suggests starting out by asking your new team what they are accountable for as a group, and what they would like to accomplish, over a defined period of time. “When you engage your team with what needs to be accomplished, and allow them latitude in determining how the work will get done, individual accountability, plus a sense of collaboration, will begin to unfold. If you do not hold people accountable the team tends to undermine each other and the toxicity of the workplace becomes something you will not survive,” he says.

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