5 Strategies for Being a Better Boss in 2013

I can’t believe the number of people I’ve talked to recently who are desperately unhappy in their jobs.

With rare exception, the core cause of their complaints is their boss.

While I realize not everyone is a boss, most everyone has a boss. As a result, I thought I’d share my list of five strategies for being a better boss in 2013.

First of all, in the event you haven’t noticed, the workplace is changing. A good boss knows the future is about collaboration and meshwork.

To collaborate, you have to get over the idea that your position of authority gives you power.

Real power comes as the restful of trusted relationships, a sense of community, and collective effort.  Encourage suggestions and ideas from your team and, rather than micro-manage them, make the outcomes clear, empower them to deliver, and get out of their way. 

Secondly, as the boss you need to remove your focus from your to-do list — which typically is about managing day to day operations — and invest at least one hour a day in preparing for a rapidly changing and often uncertain future. Continually revisit your vision, values, mission, and direction; watch for trends and issues; and think about what’s working and what isn’t, what you’ve learned, and what’s needed to be more successful. Even more importantly, openly share and encourage others to share information and knowledge. 

Next, let go of the idea of putting employees in boxes on the organization chart. Instead of adhering to specific roles and responsibilities, tap the talents and passions of each employee and allow their responsibilities to evolve and fluctuate. While this is more challenging if you work in a union environment, you may only be talking about a small percentage of an employee’s typical work. Also know that happy employees aren’t usually the ones who file grievances.

Every boss also needs to think in a new way about evaluating the performance of their employees.  Like many others, I used to dread my annual performance review (that is if I happened to be working for a boss who actually did them). Instead, wouldn’t you think it would be much more effective to provide immediate and ongoing feedback?  Part of that will be sharing credit and recognizing and celebrating the achievements of others. 

Lastly, if you want to be a good boss, one of the most important things you can do is be brave. That means less firefighting — or doing less reacting and instead being more proactive. 
It seems we too often expend significant resources on dealing with symptoms and not enough on tackling the often messy and complex underlying root causes of the issues and challenges.  A good boss understands that it’s not about what you’re doing but why you’re doing it.

Will any of this be easy?  Not likely. But, if you think about change as a locomotive coming at you, can stand still and get flattened, or you can jump on and starting driving that train. 

Posted on 01-06-13

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