What Does a Good Boss Look Like?
The Devil Wears Slacks and a Button Down
We’ve all had our fair share of bad bosses, right? The guy you have to walk on eggshells around when he’s actually in the office that day, or the lady that acts like she’s Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. These are signs of a bad boss, but in this post we’re going to focus on the positives.
I remember my first job like it was yesterday. In high school, I worked as a team member for a chicken sandwich slingin’ fast food chain, and while my managers were pretty awesome, the further up the ladder you climbed the darker it got. My boss wasn’t terrible or abusive by any means, but he was not a boss I looked forward to working with, and I wasn’t the only one who felt like this.
For the sake of anonymity, let’s call my old boss Jim. Jim liked to come into where us drive-thru workers operated and berate us for anything he could find wrong. Not once did he walk in, greet us, and ask how we were. It was obvious by the way he treated us that he cared more about what we could do for him than who we were as people. He was visibly stressed and seemed to always take it out on us, but when he was with a customer he’d put on his fake smile and act like they were best friends. Of course, we respected him because he was our boss, but that was all. When he came into work it was like a dark cloud had come over our restaurant, and I’m sure you can infer how that affected our work ethic and motivation.
His wife (let’s call her Hope), however, was a different story. Hope would come in with a smile, greet us by your name, make eye contact and ask how we were doing. She was always calm, positive, and encouraging. Hope cared about us as people so we loved having her around, even when she was correcting or teaching us. Having Hope around renewed our energy for the company and created a positive space for us to learn, grow and work hard.
A good boss is intentional about getting to know you, even if it’s as small as knowing your name and asking how you are. At Sommerfield Productions, the first thing Matt and I do when we meet for work is ask how each other is doing, crack some jokes, and have a conversation. I respect Matt more because he is genuine and relatable, not because he tells me what to do and holds his authority over my head. Having an awesome boss like this makes me love my job more and makes it worth my time to focus my energy on what I produce.
With vs Above
Have you ever had a boss that liked to come over to your workstation and critique every little thing you’re doing while you know full well they have never actually been in your position before? I have experienced so much frustration and anger over this because I felt that my boss had no right to tell me how to do my job considering he had no experience and no clue what he was actually talking about.
This isn’t to say that a boss needs to be experienced in every single position within the company. Instead, it is how they address their gaps in expertise that will define their nature as a superior. Having a boss ask thoughtful questions related to your work to get to know what you do and how you do it, will open up better discussion so they get to know how the company really works and can provide appropriate feedback if necessary.
If you Google image search “leader,” a ton of images appear displaying an authoritative figure working among their people. It’s a good way to visually see that just because your boss is above you, doesn’t mean they’re above you (you can see how an image could be helpful in understanding this). In title, your boss may be superior to you, but a true leader meets you where you are and comes alongside you. They put the work in too, not just tell you what to do. This is why it is important for them to understand what your position requires and to trust that your knowledge is valuable.
So Much More
Obviously, there is a lot that goes into being the best boss ever, but here are a few key takeaways. A good boss...
Intentionally seeks out a basic knowledge of every position in the company
Is mindful of the different personalities within the workplace environment and works to make them all feel included and supported
Listens to and fulfills the needs of the employees to the best of their ability
Asks questions before reprimanding
Cares about an employee as a person first, employee second
Join the Conversation
Which key takeaway above can you work on right now to establish the necessary relationships in your workplace?