Believe it or not, most bosses don’t want to come across negatively to their staff, however being the boss means that you end up coming across as a bit of scrooge office figure. Alex Moyle, author of ‘Business development culture – taking sales culture beyond the sales team’, offers some help and advice about how not to be a horrible boss.
Many managers forget to make time to reflect on their relationship with those they manage and to make sure that they aren’t a bad boss. It can be too easy to make excuses for not thinking about it – I’m not paid to be popular, I have too much to do, I’ll think about it once this project is done.
It’s not really that hard, not to be a horrible boss. With relatively little effort you can find out whether you are being a bad boss and work out a plan to address any shortcomings in your management style. But, it might mean shifting your focus a little.
You probably spend part of every day looking at your team and reflecting on whether they are doing what they need to do, working the way you want them to work. Over time you notice little changes in behaviour or attitude that make you think ‘I need to address that’, which is all part and parcel of being a manager.
A mistake many managers make is that whilst they are very good at spotting behaviour deficiencies in their team, they forget to think about their role in encouraging or even causing that behaviour. My mother used to say to me that when you point a finger there are always three pointing back to you.
This is a great approach to take when working with your team when you spot a negative behaviour you need to think, what did I do to cause this?
When addressing the behaviour with the individual, it’s worth asking what you can do to stop them feeling this way. Sometimes it will be an external factor that is causing the behaviour change – but in many instances how the person feels or is acting is as a direct response to someone else’s behaviour at work (and quite often yours).
It’s worth taking this a step further and proactively talking to your team about their experience of being managed by you on a regular basis before problems occur.
A question I often ask is:
“It is often the little things that a manager does that differentiates the good from the great. What are the little things that I have done to make you feel more motivated in your work?”
The answers provide a blueprint for every manager to think about and act upon:
- Taking my personal development seriously and acting on my concerns
- Looking for opportunities to give me variety in my role
- When you praise good work or when extra effort has been given
- Sharing information about the business performance and strategy
- Giving honest feedback
- Sharing your ‘human’ side whilst being professional
- Being open to receiving feedback when you have done something wrong
- Encouraging my self-development
- Noticing when I need some encouragement
If you have the courage to run this exercise, you will be rewarded with a definitive guide to the things that engage and motivate your team. By openly discussing how each person feels and showing that you are willing to change your own behaviour as well as expecting them to address theirs, you will get credit for being the caring, thoughtful manager you want to be.