Having a great boss can feel like finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk. You’ve been walking along your whole life, wishing you’d find one, but not really expecting to. You’ve seen so much gum and dog poop and other trash on the sidewalk; what makes you think you’d find a $100 bill? But then one day, you decide to take a different route than you usually do. Lo and behold, there’s the $100 bill, just waiting for you. You snatch up that $100 bill and tell everyone you can about it. You cherish it - you know how lucky you are, especially after hearing your friends’ horror stories about the crap they’ve found on the sidewalk! - and you vow to one day leave a $100 bill on the sidewalk for someone to find when you have the ability. That’s what having a great boss is like.
If you have that ability, what are some traits to keep in mind?
Approachability. This one is key, especially during a transition when employees often need more help and guidance. If you’re scared to approach your boss, you're more likely to struggle or attempt something and do it incorrectly, which is not good for you, your relationship with your boss, or the company.
Empathy and understanding. You’re all on the same team and facing the same expectations, challenges, deadlines, etc., so having someone who truly gets you and your role is helpful.
Ability to give constructive criticism. Some factors include tone, knowing the appropriate message as it relates to time, place and delivery, and a willingness to give HONEST feedback. At the end of the day, you should want to get better, and if your boss wants that for you and the company, he or she will help you get there.
Advocating for your department. A great boss knows that he or she has to have his or her employees’ backs. The boss takes up for employees, keeps the needs of employees at the forefront of his or her mind and makes decisions that align with that mindset.
Good communicator. Communication is important for every relationship and the relationship between a boss/employee is no exception. This includes relaying expectations, feedback and deadlines.
Ability to mentor staff/provide resources and outlets. Whether bosses realize it or not, part of their title involves mentoring those working “under” them,” so they should take on that responsibility. This also includes allocating budget money for professional development and supporting involvement in professional organizations.
Practice what you preach and lead by example. If bosses want others to follow his or her lead, they should LEAD WELL. Don’t by hypocritical and expect others to be held to a higher standard.
These are just a few suggestions to be the best boss you can possibly be, and provide the best possible working environment for your employees. Take a moment to walk in your employees’ shoes, and be the boss for them that you craved when you were in their position.