Inspired by the good, the best (and the worst)

By Julie Hubert, President and CEO of Workland

Many of us have had the opportunity to work for some truly amazing bosses… and perhaps some of the worst.  I personally have had the pleasure of living on both sides of the spectrum, and I can now openly say that some of those bosses inspired me to literally quit my job and… hire myself!

We don’t always fully realize the extent to which we, as bosses, affect the present and future of the people that work for us. We have the power to either give our employees wings, or cut them off. More than ever today, anyone managing staff should introspect often and ask: “How do I rate on the boss scale?” Because ultimately, people leave bosses, not companies.

Here are my «10 commandments» of the AWESOME boss to make sure people reporting to you stay motivated, dedicated and inspired to stick through good and bad times:

1.Determine intrinsic motivators: What drives each member of your team to wake up every morning? What is important to them? What needs are they seeking to fulfill through work? What are their personal goals? How do they see their career path? If you can’t answer at least some of these questions for your key employees, it will be very hard to keep them engaged and motivated long-term.

2. Show sincere appreciation: When one of your employees does something great, let them know their work did not go unnoticed! Getting paid for great work is only part of the equation and does not lead to long-term engagement. It costs nothing to show appreciation and gratitude for a job well-done or for outstanding efforts to keep people motivated and continue outdoing themselves.

3. De-dramatize and celebrate: De-dramatize the worst, amplify and celebrate the good. As captain of your boat, if you freak out, they’ll all freak out and chances are your boat won’t get through the storm, no pail will be large enough to get the water out and you won’t be able to prevent your people from…jumping ship.

4.Inspire through communication: Effective communication has always been at the base of all human relationships, work being no exception. It would be unreasonable to expect that all bosses be naturally inspiring in nature and in any case, what employees are really looking for is a connection to a cause and purpose greater than themselves. Make sure your people know on a constant basis WHY their work is important in achieving the overall mission of the company.

5.Support your people: Sounds easy but the lack of support in achieving set objectives is one of the most popular reasons why people leave their job. Once targets are set for your people, make sure they know and feel that you are there to support them, both through good (easy) and tough times (not-so-easy). What would your employees answer to the question: “When you screw up, the thought of telling your boss makes you feel… Anxious? Stressed? Neutral? Reassured? Relieved? Freaked out?

6.Empower your A players:  Find the best racehorses and let them run! In a world where technology is taking over much of the transactional work, human beings are seeking to become and achieve more. A large portion of the human potential is unleashed through empowerment, this being even more the case with A players. So, pull the reins not on your horses, but on your micro-management tendencies, to prevent your horses from running to…another stable.

7.Let your people make mistakes: We all make mistakes and any boss needs to remember that before “throwing stones” at their staff. Worse than making errors, is having staff paralyzed from the fear of making mistakes, something that most people will not endure in the long run. Next time you worry about your staff making mistakes, remember this quote: « Mistakes can always be corrected, but it is inaction that will kill you ».

8.Create and foster trust: Just like marriages, work relationships cannot survive long term without trust. All your people need to know that no matter what happens in both their professional and personal lives, they can always come to you for support, understanding and advice. Trust is built through time, by consistently demonstrating to your employees that you have their best interests at heart.

9.Go the extra mile: We’ve all heard that it is the « little things » that count and this is definitely the case with your employees. Job satisfaction is the direct result of the sum of all your actions as a boss. You have someone in your team that really stands out? Someone that has been working relentlessly for months? Offer to do something extra special for them outside the usual norm of what would be expected. Monetary rewards are necessary to keep the work relationship alive, but it is the impact of all those little things that create true loyalty.

10.Make it fun: As most people still spend more time at work than anywhere else, at minimum, you should make it a point to make it fun to work in your team. This is the place to be extra creative and why not ask your staff to contribute their ideas? As there is a time to work hard, there should also be a time to play hard, so make sure you balance the two.

Oddly enough, there are thousands of courses available on pretty much any topic, but unfortunately, none are there to teach us right from the start how to be a good boss. So we end up learning directly in the field, from the good, the best and the worst. Being a great boss on a continuous basis is no easy task but all in all, if your intentions are honorable, if you sincerely care about your employees and if you make sure to incorporate at least some of the above recommendations in your Boss DNA, you are certain to increase the likelihood of retaining, motivating and inspiring your key talents.

Do you have other AWESOME boss ideas that could have made it on this list? Don’t hesitate to let me know!