Do you consider yourself to be a good boss?
Great leaders share certain personality traits and professional strengths in common. They also tap a common portfolio of management strategies to keep their companies or departments working smoothly, and to help their subordinates reach their fullest potential.
Whether you’re responsible for a team of four, a department of forty, or a company of four hundred, these strategies will make you a better boss. Here are seven techniques that you can implement tomorrow.
1. Clearly Communicate Expectations
Make sure your employees know precisely what’s expected of them. Clearly communicate directives in writing to ensure that there’s an indisputable record. Confirm with your employees that they understand what’s being asked of them. Clarification is a great way to prevent misunderstandings and ensure that everyone has clearly defined objectives.
2. Check in With Employees Regularly (But Don’t Micromanage)
Keep tabs on your employee’s activities and make sure they have all the support they need from you and the rest of the management team. This doesn’t mean you have to micromanage them, however.
“Employees excel when they have autonomy to make their own decisions and set their own goals,” says Miami entrepreneur George Otte. “Great bosses keep a respectful distance while continuing to hold team members accountable.”
3. Document All Disciplinary Actions
The importance of documenting disciplinary actions is difficult to overstate. A written record of adverse actions taken against employees is important if and when more drastic steps are needed. While this is an uncomfortable subject for bosses who wish to position themselves as employee-friendly, it’s crucial from a human resources perspective. Just as communicating expectations in writing provides clarity for your team, documented disciplinary action is an effective warning mechanism for subordinates.
4. Put Rules and Standards in Writing
Make sure your employees have access to a comprehensive employee handbook. This material should cover everything your employees need to know to excel in your workplace. Draw it up in consultation with your human resources team and update it as necessary to reflect changing policies.
5. Work to Build Consensus
Whenever possible, work to build consensus on the teams you lead. This is a great way to strengthen bonds of trust and collaboration between your subordinates while ensuring that great ideas are incorporated into company initiatives. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to make their voice heard, from the most junior employee to the most senior.
6. Seek Feedback from Subordinate Employees
Give every member of your team the chance to provide constructive feedback about your leadership style and the overall direction of the organization. Maintain an “open door” policy that allows any employee to come directly to you with questions or concerns — no matter how far down the organizational hierarchy they reside. Many bosses give out their personal phone numbers so that subordinates can work around the chain of command when warranted. This is important for subordinates who may not feel comfortable bringing up issues with their direct reports.
7. Reflect on Your Own Performance
Great leaders are self-reflective. Carve out time each year to give yourself a complete employee performance review, just as you do with all the employees who report to you. This can be an illuminating, even surprising experience that ultimately makes you a better boss.