Bosses are responsible for overseeing a wide range of tasks. It can be difficult to know if you’re a good boss and why. I manage a small four-person writing team. I’ve directed and edited their content for three years, but I never quite knew if they thought I did a good job; I never heard any complaints, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. How do you find out what makes you a great boss? You do the terrifying thing: ask the team.
My first question to my team was whether or not I was, in fact, a great boss. No doubt that terrified them, even after my assurance that it wasn’t a trick question. I received resounding approval. When asked why, their answers surprised me. Here is the top response from each one of them.
Communicate clearly and consistently
I try to keep the channels of communication open and send to-the-point instructions to my team on a regular basis. One team member pinpointed this as my best attribute as a boss. She likes the fact that she never has to wonder what’s happening, and she always knows where her work stands in quality and expectation.
Allow everyone to work in strength areas
Let’s face it, everyone is good at something — and terrible at something. When someone joins the team, my first step is to find out what they enjoy and what they’re best at doing. It’s not always possible to stay exclusively in strength areas, but I try to let them work in their favorite areas for the bulk of their time.
Praise publicly, correct privately
One of my team members loved the fact that when I have something good to say, it’s in an email to the entire team. If possible, I will say it in person. When it’s time for corrections, each person gets private suggestions from me on where to improve. This particular team member had difficulty with being too wordy and missing deadlines. I mentioned the wordiness in a public email but only as a general point to remember. In a private message, I offered to help him organize and plan his time so that he didn’t miss deadlines.
Offer areas for enrichment
No, it wasn’t areas for advancement, it was personal enrichment that this team member cited for a great boss. Everyone has different goals in life, and it’s a mistake for a boss to treat everyone the same. This particular team member wanted to learn copy writing. It’s not specifically what our team does, but I went out of my way to offer resources and critiques for improved copy writing.
The most shocking part to me is that none of these team members mentioned pay. Maybe I just don’t pay that great, or perhaps it’s not really the most important factor in job satisfaction.