I spent 34 of my 40 years in industry in all levels of management with several great companies (IBM and Lockheed Martin). I was always looking to improve my trade to be a better boss. See if any of these signs sound familiar.
Signs that you’re in fact doing a terrific job managing your team.
Those signs include: You’re able to try new things, you challenge your employees, and you have a sense of humor.
It’s not always easy being in charge.
Overseeing others comes with a ton of pressure. And when you’re in a management position, it can be difficult to evaluate how you’re doing.
Are you striking the right balance between commanding respect and appearing accessible? Are your employees responding well to your style of leadership? Are any of your actions breeding resentment in the office?
Being a good boss is crucial for your organization — a third of the employees in one survey revealed that they’d quit a job because of a bad manager. But you can’t exactly go wandering around the office begging people to tell you how you’re doing.
You’re better off organizing employee satisfaction surveys and soliciting feedback from your direct reports.
Take a look at these ways that I learned from many years as a boss.
Share the limelight
Does your boss constantly use the word “I” when associating with success? Do they fail to invite you to meetings to present your own work?
They may be intentionally keeping you out of the limelight so that they can stay in it.
This is in the DNA of a bad boss. These types can become glory hogs and take credit for your hard work. Your best option is to manage up and understand the real root of the problem.
Always look for ways to share the credit.
Learning to admit that you’re wrong is one of the best things you can do for your colleagues.
Ask Lexi Reese, the COO of Gusto and a former Googler, and she’ll tell you the best thing a boss can do is communicate to their reports the type of leader they aspire to be.
Most importantly, the boss should encourage their reports to let them know when they’re falling short.
If your boss refuses to admit that they’re wrong, this means they’re not willing to go out of their comfort zone for you.
A national independent study by Lynn Taylor Consulting found that 91% of employees said that owning up to one’s mistakes as a manager was an important factor in employee job satisfaction.
Admitting to mistakes sends a message to your employees that it’s a safe environment to take smart risks — and without that, you’re sapping the best of the relationships.
Be truthful at all costs
A boss who lies is untrustworthy — not a good foundation for a productive relationship. Some can become so immune to their own stories that they can convince themselves that the lies are true. They may legitimize their fibbing by rationalizing that others do it, deflect this character flaw by pointing the finger to others.
Other bad bosses just can’t face the fallout that will result from telling the truth.
You must examine what motivates your boss to lie. Make sure you have all your facts before you start any questioning. And remember that it’s best to encourage honesty than to go on the offense.
Don’t have favorites
Playing favorites is a great way to torpedo office morale. If you make it clear that a certain person is the apple of your eye no matter what, then that’ll just encourage your other employees to give up on trying to impress you.
Give feedback freely
Good employees crave feedback to learn how they can improve and grow. Great bosses are happy to oblige.
For example: “This is how that came across for me,” or “This is what that made me think.”
Offer more chances to grow
There are few things more aggravating at work than being kept stagnant with the same routine responsibilities over a long period of time, especially after you’ve voiced interest in expanding your level of contribution.
If you feel your sentiments are going unheard, you may still proactively demonstrate your more strategic skills on a current project and propose them to your boss.
Always look for ways to contribute new ideas to your boss’ pet project; get more specific with how your background and credentials could specifically be better tapped for XYZ initiatives.
With your manager’s permission, offer to volunteer on a related department’s project where your skillset applies, building on your existing credentials. Bosses love initiative.
Try new things
Good bosses adopt certain methods because they’re the best way of doing things — not because they’ve just fallen into certain habits. The best managers give their employees room to experiment and innovate.
Unfortunately, some bosses seem to feel that hurling insults and abuse at people are an effective motivational technique. In most cases, this simply isn’t true. If you value your employees as human beings, then you’re already a huge step above many managers.
Show your manners
Insecure bosses bark out orders and behave like divas in order to establish their dominance. If you always say the magic word and are generally polite, then that’s definitely a good sign.
Bosses should build trust with their employees by providing a reasonable amount of support and guidance. Obviously, you don’t need to hold anyone’s hand, but throwing people into the deep end isn’t ideal, either.
Bad bosses throw up roadblocks that make it harder for people to succeed and do their jobs. Great managers should actively work to make the lives of their employees easier.
Always express gratitude
Does your boss put you down in front of others? If you let it go once, it’ll happen over and over again. Good bosses know they should have this conversation with their employees in private.
Also, consider apologizing to your boss behind closed doors.
While it may sound counterintuitive to apologize to someone for something that clearly wasn’t your fault, amazing things happen when you can bring yourself to do so.
Look for ways to improve coaching
Coaches don’t just sit back on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs. But they don’t run onto the field and start playing, either — unless they’re that one scary dad who takes the youth recreational soccer league way too seriously.
Good bosses are like good coaches: They command respect and provide the right blend of praise and constructive criticism to bring out the best in their employees.
Ask for insight
Employees want to feel heard.
Obviously, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for making the final judgment. But once in a while, if the situation calls for it, good bosses reach out to their workers to get their insights and opinions.
Seek to explain your decisions
Good managers don’t expect anyone to read their minds. They outline a clear vision and provide their team with the knowledge and tools to achieve it.
Instead, look for ways to expand roles and tasks. Carefully examine the capabilities of your workers in order to achieve a good balance. Could you give any of them more responsibilities? Is there anything you can start delegating?
Show your sense of humor
Be willing to laugh at yourself. It’s important to never take the joking too far in the office.
That being said, good bosses take their work seriously — not themselves. It’s good to have a laugh with your employees.
Show you appreciate employee dreams
The best bosses are invested in their employees. That means that they’re actively concerned with the professional goals and aspirations of their workers.
Many people have had a manager who loved to talk. Rarer — and infinitely more appreciated — are those bosses who are quality listeners. Good listening skills show your employees that you’re seriously considering their opinions and needs.
Take an interest in employees’ lives
Good bosses don’t cross the line into nosiness. Still, they care enough to ask about peoples’ summer plans, kids, and elderly parents. This interest will demonstrate to employees that their boss actually cares about them, making both parties more invested in their working relationship.
Always tailor your approach
Different employees have different needs. “One size fits all” just isn’t going to cut it in the workplace. The best bosses are flexible. This allows them to fulfill all sorts of roles in order to better cater to the needs of their workers.
Every manager should get to know the people on their team. Specifically, what makes them tick, what opportunities they might want, what they need to get better at, what feedback they need to have.
The bottom line
As you start following through on your these actions, you’ll show your employees that not only are you on their side but that they can trust you to help them in any way you can.
Be prepared: Your employees might be a little skeptical at your change of heart at first. If you haven’t been an attentive and team-centered manager in the past, they probably won’t have 100% confidence in you right away. The good news is, these steps will put you back on the right path — not only to improve your own management skills but to help your entire team succeed.