24 Rules to Being a Beloved Boss at Work

Great boss with happy team.
Photo by Syda Productions – Shutterstock.com

So, you’ve just landed a managerial or closer to a managerial position at work. Congratulations are in order, first and foremost!

You’ve probably seen how your superiors work and know what to expect from your everyday routine, but your added responsibilities now involve a team of people as well. That’s why it’s time to review what you can do in order to make your workplace a positive, welcoming environment.

We’ve prepared a list of 24 golden rules that every good boss should abide by so sit back, relax, and start thinking about how to implement all of these the next time you head into work.

Know Your People

When it’s your job to coordinate a team of people to work together and often with the public, you need to keep an eye on their strengths and weaknesses. Making sure that the right person is always on the right job will not only increase your chances of success, it will also ensure that your employee is happy. If instead, you force them into a position they’re unfamiliar and uncomfortable with, all you’ll notice is a drop in motivation.

Hopefully, these are people you’ve already had experience working already so you might have an idea of how to coordinate them but if not, take your time and watch them work for a little while so that you can make an informed decision later.

By forcing a worker to fit a role they’re not naturally attuned to by training and retraining them, you’re only slapping a bandaid on a cut. This type of solution is only temporary and could even lead to resentment. If someone tells you where they’d rather work and that they think they’ll do a better job there, listen to them!

Think Like an Employee, Act Like a Manager

Now’s the time to think back on what made you appreciate your former boss (or not!). What were some of the things that mattered to you? Was it praise and recognition during meetings? Was it the relevant and constant feedback?

You’re in charge of those things now but you also have to keep in mind that your employees might need different approaches. While one member on the team might love flying solo, another one might need supervision and assurances more often. If you think like them you’re going to be doing a far better job in the long run.

Of course, you must also balance the fact that you have to impress your superiors too. A great boss knows how to tackle both fronts without leaving one side wanting for more.

Be Inspirational

Due to your new role, you must now find ways to ensure that your employees love coming into work. Being inspirational sounds vague, maybe even difficult, but it’s all about catering to everyone’s individual needs.

If you’re working with customers, they’ll always tell when something is off or if things have been thrown off balance in your team and it’ll make them second guess employing your services in the future. But even if this isn’t the case, ensuring that the work environment is positive is crucial.

Push your people to come up with clever solutions to problems, allow them to show off their creativity and personalities. That’s how you become a leader and a mentor.

Be the Fixer

Most bosses prefer to pass problems off to their employees- after all, they’re being paid to work and working involves coming up with solutions, right? Sadly, more often than not they also pass down the blame when something goes wrong.

There’s nothing wrong with challenging someone in order for them to resolve the issue, but employees also want to see you take your new role seriously by taking the reins and leading them in the right direction. A good boss should never ask anyone to do something they are not prepared to do themselves.

The first thing you should do if you’ve spotted a problem is to admit to the mistake (if it was yours) or calmly speak to the people who generated it in the first place. Reassure everyone that working as a team you’ll come out of it on top, be open and they’ll know to come to you the next time something bad happens too! Thus you’ll be able to nip any problem in the bud early on.

Horrible bosses, on the other hand, let someone else ‘deal with it’, then lose their minds when they didn’t come up with the ‘right’ solution. News flash, employees aren’t mind readers!

Let’s Not Be Friends

If you’re not leading your former peers, you’re likely in a strange and almost surreal situation. Should you continue to be friendly towards them? Should you distance yourself?

Remember this, your job is to now lead a team of people. Sadly, that means that you can no longer have that same level of friendship, not to mention that some people might feel resentment towards you- hey, it happens! Others might even want to take advantage of your friendship to propel their own careers.

You should have clear boundaries. Be nice to the people you work with and become a mentor, but don’t expect them to share their secrets with you anymore, and neither should you. On top of that, you shouldn’t be playing favorites, and if you’re friendly towards some members of the team as opposed to others, it’ll really hurt the office’s morale.

Pay Attention

You don’t need to be buddies with your employees to be a good boss. Instead, you should focus on giving them attention. By keeping your eyes wide open at work you can spot not only issues but also what makes your team happy.

Not only that but you should always be open and communicative with your people. The best leaders schedule meetings with their employees, mostly on a monthly basis so they could discuss their plans or struggles in an environment in which they feel appreciated and listened to.

So, how can you create such an environment? Make sure your one-on-one meeting takes place in a quiet place. Eliminate distractions by silencing your phone and turning off your monitor, ask them questions about projects, their days, everything that might be particular to your working environment. Do this and your employees won’t ever complain about you or about you being unseen.

Be a Strength-spotter

As people, we tend to spot mistakes a lot more often than we notice others doing something good. As such, we’re also more likely to speak up and point out things that are wrong, which may be why so many of us are constantly looking for validation. In most cases, people don’t even think to congratulate each other enough.

Instead of being the type of boss that points out blunders, lift your employees up by showcasing their strengths. You don’t have to make a full-blown event out of it, just a quick praise here and there while they’re going about their day is enough to give them a boost.

Know what will happen next? They’ll work just as hard if not more so in order to get on your good side in the future. If, however, you do the opposite then you’ll eventually create resentment and your workers will feel underappreciated. This, in turn, may lead to them hiding from you while doing the best they can do avoid the type of responsibility that may breed more mistakes.

Let Go of the Reins

A lot of people who have recently found themselves in this position avoid delegating because they think it’s their responsibility alone to take care of certain matters in the company. Truth is, though, you should redistribute around 5% of the tasks to those around you that you trust most.

By doing so you’ll open up more time for yourself to actually go around the workspace and check how things are going while also avoiding the dreaded ‘staying up at the office late’ excuse.

Furthermore, your employees will look for ways of gaining their own bonuses, raises or promotions. Most times they’ll do this by taking on more responsibility and proving that they can see more managerial tasks through. By not delegating you’re depriving them of valuable learning opportunities and the ability to rise through the ranks, as you did.

Accountability Counts

By allowing your team to be accountable for their work, you could open up a wealth of benefits to the workspace. First and foremost, you’ll remove the need to micromanage everything your employees do and trust us, nobody likes a boss that’s looming over their shoulder and breathing down their necks.

Start by asking them what their responsibilities are and how they plan to tackle them as a team. Make sure to also ask about the time frames and other such projections to get a better idea of how they’re used to working and why. By doing so, they’ll be careful about their workload while opening up plenty of opportunities for collaborations.

In the end, you’ll have a responsible team on your hands. Their motivation will skyrocket if, after some time, they’ll be able to come back to you to proudly show off their accomplishments. Remember, you’re working with adults, not kindergartners and it’s important for them to see that you’re comfortable in letting go of the reins for the benefit of the company.

Speak Last

You should stimulate creative thinking in your office every day, but you must especially do so when you’re having a meeting with the team. More often than not, bosses like to start by putting their opinions out there first. All you’ll do is encourage your employees to ask questions instead of showing off their ideas in the first place.

Say you do have an idea for a new project or an idea of how to change a current one. Start by asking everyone what they think your company should do. You might even find some people that have come up with the same solutions as you have!

Don’t try to dominate the conversation just because you’re their boss. You might discover a few diamonds in the rough, too, and this sort of meeting could be the catalyst for finding out new strengths and weaknesses on the team.

Just remember, everyone has a voice. A good mentor knows how to value everyone’s perspective even if they think they’ve come up with a great idea on their own.

Provide a Clear Map

When you’re the one in charge and you know what the goal of your team is it might seem strange that you’d need to remind your employees of the same thing.

This is far from redundant, though. Remember, when taking care of daily operations some other details might slip their mind. Or they may not be aware of some last-minute changes from higher up the chain of command. It’s your job to remind them. Talk about the finish line but also about smaller goals along the way.

Nobody will feel lost or out of the loop and you won’t catch your team getting sidetracked either.

Have High Expectations and High Attentiveness

Happy boss.
Photo by fizkes – Shutterstock.com

If you start off by putting your employees in uncomfortable situations by giving them impossible to attain goals, you’ll be in a world of trouble. That’s a one-way ticket to demoralizing your team even if your intentions were to offer them a challenge.

Sure, challenges are important in a work environment but you must also pay extra attention to them. Allow your team to come to you with questions and brainstorm possible solutions with them. By letting them fend for themselves and saying that they should not have taken on the responsibility if they couldn’t handle it you’re shutting off communications- a big no-no for someone in your position!

Take a Vacation Already

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, your employees will act a certain way because they’re seeing you act in a certain way. Sadly, this may lead to problems for them down the line and it may make their work-life miserable.

If you’re the type of person that doesn’t like to take vacations because you’re too focused on work, your employees will think that the same is expected of them. You may claim that this isn’t the case and that everyone should take breaks sometimes but actions speak louder than words.

Just take a break. Show them that you’re only human. If you’re sick, take a sick day. If you’re feeling burned out, don’t try to hide it. The more comfortable your team is, the less stress they’ll feel about taking a day or two off when they need it instead of overworking.

Confront Mistakes Immediately, Yours and Your Employees

Speaking of only being human, a lot of us don’t actually like confrontation. But it’s a must at work, especially if someone made a mistake that could negatively impact the company. Don’t let it slide and don’t promise you’ll ‘get to it’ only to avoid it later on.

No, discussing it early on will prove that you’re on top of the game. Furthermore, you’ll show your team that you’re not scared of having such meetings, not even if you’re the one who made a mistake.

This will encourage them to come to you if anything does go wrong. The sooner you get your hands on it to fix it, the better, right? That’s the mentality you’re going for, but first, you have to foster an open environment.

See Your Coworkers as People First, Employees Second

We’ve been conditioned to think about our coworkers and often ourselves as cogs in a machine. But, wait a minute… we’re not machines! We’re all people with feelings, families, struggles, likes, and dislikes.

Remember, you’re working with others who have lives of their own, just like you. We mentioned you shouldn’t be friends with your employees, but you should definitely be friendly.

Don’t be afraid to ask them about their days, for example. Stay away from overly personal questions, but otherwise treat them like you’d like to be treated. Understanding and kindness go a long way and you want your team to come into work feeling comfortable. By taking a few minutes out of your time to do so just watch as it puts a smile on their face.

Don’t Force Employees to Read Your Mind

Your team cannot read your mind, no matter how many ‘signs’ you leave out in the open. Hints and nudges are absolutely not the same as clear and open communication. If you want something from someone, tell them, ask them. Otherwise, you won’t know this, but you’ll get a lot of eye-rolling behind your back!

The issue stems from the fact that a lot of bosses want to be the strong, silent type, kind of like in the movies. But movies are just stories, fantasy. You and your company? You live out in the real world.

Most importantly, by remaining silent about certain issues you’ll actually make people very uncomfortable. They’ll begin making up their own scenarios in their heads, some of them could be extremely detrimental to the team, company, or even you personally!

Ask for Differing Opinions

If you have a “my way or the highway” attitude then you’ll only breed resentment in the workplace. This goes hand in hand with micromanaging employees, something you should avoid at all times.

After all, you and the company have employed people based on their capabilities and training, right? You should allow them to work in ways that show positive results even if they’re doing things differently from you.

Of course, if you think someone needs a nudge to better their work ethic you could sign them up for training courses, but making a scene whenever someone doesn’t follow your script is not a good way to go about it!

The thing is people will always have differing opinions even when working towards a common goal. You should respect that.

Follow the 30-second Inbox Rule

You’d be surprised by how many emails and phone calls bosses have to deal with on a daily basis. If you don’t sort them out in a timely manner, the rest of your workload will suffer while you’re also leaving other people on hold.

The 30-second inbox rule should help out. After all, for the most part all you need is one or two sentences in an email and then you’re done. People might be looking for approval or corrections. You don’t need to write an academic essay. With a quick message both you and them can continue working without much fuss.

Avoid Controversial Conversations

Everyone engages in a little office gossip at some point, but due to your new position, you should avoid this at all costs. Otherwise, you’ll show signs of favoritism and you might even propel harmful or false information about someone on your team. Furthermore, if others see you do this they’ll take it as a sign that it’s OK which will only create a hostile work environment.

No matter how curious you are, don’t ask, and don’t tell. If someone talks to you during your break and lets a private detail slip you should never ever pass that along around the workspace.

Make Sure Your Praise Outweighs Your Criticisms

It’s time to review someone’s work and you’ve noticed them making some crucial mistakes in the past. As mentioned earlier, it’s alright to point them out. But it’s just as important to ensure that your praise outweighs criticism.

If after a meeting you haven’t provided anything positive to an employee they’ll go back to their work station wondering if their efforts are even noticed anyway. They may even take it as a sign of this being a dead-end job with no possibility for growth. If it comes to that, they could even start looking for another job while putting less and less effort into their current role. Is that something you want on your hands?

Make Eye Contact and Keep an Open Posture

Boss and worker in warehouse.
Photo by wavebreakmedia – Shutterstock.com

Phone calls, emails, online conferences… they can make us feel disconnected from the real world and we might even forget how to act around our peers after a while.

So keep a close eye on your posture and make sure you’re always well presented. Look people in the eyes when they’re speaking to you, even if it’s just a short conversation as you’re entering the office. This will just show them that you value their time and that you’re paying attention and not looking for a way out.

The more you do this the more comfortable your colleagues will feel around you. Do the opposite and watch as your team becomes more and more anxious.

Keep Your Cool in Tense Situations

Tempers may flare sometimes. We hate that it happens but it’s just a part of life sometimes, especially in highly stressful situations. As a boss, you have to keep your cool and treat everyone with respect and dignity. They are a human being first and an employee second.

Remember, if you shout and treat your employees like machines that don’t have a life outside of the workspace then you’re basically encouraging them to look for work elsewhere. Your company will lose valuable employees and you’ll lose respect.

If you’ve just heard some terrible news from higher up the chain and need a moment to cool off then take a moment to cool off and think things through first. Don’t even start a meeting feeling as though you’re going to explode with rage.

Don’t Take Things Personally

Look, it happens… your employees will probably talk about you behind your back. You can only ensure that they won’t say negative things by doing all the things we’ve listed here today, but at the end of the day, you can’t control what they’re going to say. Maybe it’s a mean joke. Maybe they’re frustrated with the way you handled a situation.

No matter what, don’t take it personally. Don’t berate anyone, especially not in front of an audience, it’s not a spectator sport, and if you hear something about yourself through the grapevine. If anything you should take the criticism and grow!

Did this help you get settled in your new position at work? What are some things you like to do for your employees that will help brighten their day and motivate them? Let us and our other readers know your pearls of wisdom in the comments!

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