Being a good boss is about combining leadership and management. Are you guiding your team toward your vision (leadership)? Are you giving them the tools to reach that vision (management)?
If not, what are you doing to fill the gaps?
As a boss, there is a balance between micromanaging and not paying attention. Micromanaging limits what input your team is willing to give, which then limits your company’s potential and frustrates your people. It does not empower your team but rather limits them and in the long run can be frustrating.
The hands off approach sends the message that their actions are not important and they will eventually stop to care also. The team’s efforts need to be acknowledged and recognized. By being hands off, you can appear apathetic as a boss. This apathy limits the potential of your company, because the team will not give full effort if they think you are not giving your full effort. The thought process becomes, “If no one notices what I do, then no one will notice what I don’t do.”
2. Tough vs. Soft
There is a spectrum of how people act as bosses. Some are afraid of being too mean, others are afraid that being too nice will let people take advantage.
Being a good boss means exploring where you are with your team, testing your own boundaries of trust, and learning your leadership style. Know your team members and their work style. Learn how they respond to feedback and what kind of feedback works best. Serving your team’s style will best shape your style as a boss. There is no correct answer as to whether you need to be tough on your team or soft. The best way to be is approachable, so that your team feels they can always come to you and not have to hide things from you.
Communication is the critical path for any boss-team relationship. Make your team feels safe enough to say when something is not working well. As stated above, whether you are tough or soft, approachability is most important. If you are not approachable, then communication will not flourish. People need to feel comfortable coming to you and thus communication will improve.
Provide clear guidance, even if the guidance itself is not clear. An example is:, “I am not sure what the end result will look like but this is a vague idea of what I have in mind and I want you to run with it.” Starting the conversation on a topic is all that is needed. Keeping everyone in the loop, though it may be vague or unclear at first allows the concept to grow and become more specific.
4. Meet people where they are
Learn to communicate with each of your team members in ways they can receive what you are saying. And share how you best receive information, so your team can effectively communicate with you. I have told people, “sometimes I do not see what you are saying so you gotta get in my face about it.” Not everyone likes to communicate through email. Some prefer texts or a social messaging platform like Slack. As a boss, look at your team and learn how they want to communicate and work together.
5. Management tools
Previously, we discussed how leadership gathers the resources needed and management executes with those resources. As a small business, your resources may be limited. Let your team know that. They will respect the limitations and help you find ways to work within them.
Do what you can to give your team the tools they need while also being careful not to put your cash flow at risk.
Being a good boss is more than just leadership and management. Sometimes you do have to address “minor” details, like why that one person is always late. Other times, you have to address the big picture, like how the team dynamic is working out. The only way to get better at it is to try, learn, and try again. Being a boss is not defined position from the get go. You must evolve and be flexible as your team changes and grows. Be approachable. Communicate. Engage in your team. Once you do all of this, you will inevitably become the boss your business needs.