Every good leader is constantly trying to figure out how to be a better boss.
As many as 50 percent of employees say they leave their jobs due to poor management. So not only is your ability to lead a team and boost employee morale important for a healthy work culture—but it’s also important for your bottom line.
Fortunately, there are things you can do starting right now. The traits of a good boss are not things you are either born with or aren’t.
In fact, nearly every trait can be developed, cultivated, and refined over time.
Here are some tips to upgrade your leadership performance.
Pay Attention to the Small Things
As the leader, your employees are constantly looking at you. Your performance goes under a microscope at all times whether you like it or not. Good leaders accept the higher level of scrutiny as part of the job—then set goals to rise above it.
One habit you can start cultivating now is how closely you pay attention to minor details. Great leaders are masters at switching between the big picture and nitty-gritty factors that make or break your business.
For example, what’s employee culture like? How do people talk about their jobs? What is their body language like?
Set a goal this week to take note of five things or behaviors you see around the office. Then, in a quiet moment, think about how you can use that information to grow as a leader or advance your business.
Listen First, Talk Second
Knowing how to be a better boss isn’t always clear. But across pretty much all disciplines and work fields, the leader who listens is sought after and respected.
Leaders who listen communicate a subtle message to their employees. They may be in charge on paper, but they still value the opinions of others. More importantly, listening lets people know you don’t think you matter more than anyone else in the office.
Many great leaders have said that listening more than you talk is the key to success. It helps you seem patient and more caring and may improve employee engagement.
(By the way: have you seen the latest trends in employee engagement?)
Good leaders speak clearly. They share their vision for the company and let their employees know what they need to do to thrive in the workplace.
On the other hand, work culture and performance both suffer when the boss is vague. Worse, some bosses are dismissive or sarcastic, which makes some employees fearful of asking questions.
If you want to be a better boss, focus on your communication skills this week. Stay engaged in conversations, but try to notice the way you speak to employees.
Could you say what you’re trying to say better? Is your tone conveying the message you want people to receive? And are you maintaining a balance between requests and letting people know you appreciate them?
Know Your Employees Goals
The best bosses know their employees. The people who work for them aren’t just pawns to be moved across a chessboard—they’re valued people who they take time to get to know outside of work.
One area good bosses really hone in on is understanding their employee’s professional goals. What do they want out of working there? Where do they want to be in five years?
It may seem too personal, but speaking individually with employees about their goals helps for many reasons. You’ll build rapport with people and gather valuable information.
For example, you’ll know who is interested in potential leadership opportunities when they arise.
A little “thank you” goes a long way. It’s easy to overthink how to be a good manager, but this is about as simple and effective as it gets.
Studies show that 79 percent of people who quit jobs due to their boss say a lack of appreciation was a major reason. That’s 4 out of 5 employees. It’s no understatement that saying thank you is absolutely imperative to keep your best staff on your payroll.
Gratitude doesn’t always have to mean a cash bonus or an expensive employee lunch. It can also be as simple as saying thank you or giving out cards explaining why you appreciate your people.
You might consider having your employees take the love language test. This will give you valuable information as to how people who work for you like to feel appreciated.
For some, words or quality time is enough. For others, a physical gift might be the key to their heart.
The best leaders understand the value of delegation. They recognize that you can’t do this—whatever this looks like for you—on their own.
The sooner you apply this to your business, the better. Employees are desperate for challenges and the authority to make their own choices. You’re paying them to do a job, so let them do it!
Micromanagement and manipulation are some of the worst traits a boss can develop. You wouldn’t want someone to do that to you. Make sure you aren’t doing it to your people, either.
How to Be a Better Boss
Knowing how to be a better boss can feel overwhelming. It’s lonely at the top, but being a great leader is a lot simpler than many areas of business.
Ultimately, it comes down to treating your employees with respect and empathizing with them. Showing them you value and respect their contributions while not taking your own position too seriously is key to keeping your best staff around.
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