Thursday, February 10, 2011

What Kind of a Boss Are You Anyway?

The title of today’s post came from a reader who sent me an email after my blog about employee commitment. There’s a lot of pent up frustration out there about us mangers, People, and it’s bound, as my reader suggested, to chase away your best and brightest.

As someone who likes to research a topic in order to develop it properly, I’ve done my due diligence and here is how some of the issues stack up. Do you recognize even one that applies to you? If so, there are things you can change IF you have the heart and mind to do it.

Don’t Believe All the Stuff You Read in Reviews: only Paris Hilton does that. Put your own boss’s comments in context. Is she bad about having productive performance conversations and the annual review (if you even get one) is rushed and bland? Maybe you should ask your team how you’re doing and really listen for feedback.

Are Your Bad Habits Rubbing Off on Your Staff? Are you continuously late to team meetings or do you regularly ask employees to work extra hours because you couldn’t get your act together? As Stephen Covey said, being in the thick of thin things means that the important things never get done – until they reach a crisis. Putting out fires is not the measure of a good manager or leader no matter how good that adrenaline rush feels.

Do You Show Genuine Respect for Other People? I confess: I absolutely hate people responding to email and texting during meals and meetings or continuing to work while I sit there for a scheduled meeting; and the only functioning brain in the room is mine because the other person erroneously believes in the myth of multitasking. It’s been proven that multitasking is less productive than attending to one thing at a time and following through on it. If you don’t respect my time or the purpose of the meeting, don’t call one -- or me.

You Went on the Leadership Courses; Now What? I’m not one of those people who believe that leaders are born not made although the potential needs to be there. Winston Churchill was a terrible peacetime leader but he understood what it took to lead in the darkest of times. I don’t think he went on a course to develop that skill set. The point is, leadership training can be generic and disconnected from either your job or your organization’s culture; making it very difficult to apply the content in everyday work. The best recipe is training that is a direct result of a good performance review (not filling up a predetermined number of annual training hours) coupled with mentoring and coaching. Being curious and unafraid to ask questions are also vital development tools.

As managers, too often we don’t take stock of our own performance and how it affects the people who have to make things work on the team. Are we lazy or in over our heads? Are we modeling the behaviors inflicted on us by our own bosses? When you find one day that your best people are leaving, you may need to own up to the fact that people rarely leave their jobs; they leave their bosses.

We’ve all had great bosses. Who were yours and what made them great?

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