Blog with Joel Brookman

Be a Great Boss

As a parent, you receive little or no training for the role, but the day comes when you are completely responsible for the life of a tiny being. Most of us grow into the role and become competent parents. In the end, the quality of your parenting has a strong correlation to the long-term happiness and success of your child.

After your children, the people whose life you have the greatest influence on are your employees. Consider the fact that most full time workers spend half of their waking life doing their job. As their boss you have tremendous control over their happiness. The challenge is that most managers are never taught how to manage people. Instead, they are just put in the position and expected to succeed. Just as parents have the responsibility to do everything in their power to ensure the happiness and success of their child, a boss has a similar responsibility for his employees. The challenge is that most supervisors were never trained to be managers and don’t understand what it means to be a great boss.

The Platinum Rule

The single most important component to business is labor. If you have great people (especially at the top of the organization), odds are you have a great company. The golden rule suggests that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. Then there’s the platinum rule­: treat others as they would like to be treated. What if if all the managers in an organization became focused on the platinum rule? Their goal would be to drive the happiness and success of their employees. Imagine the quality of product that could result from a group of people that love coming to work and are focused on their success. If you align their success metrics with those of the greater organization, you begin to see the power of the platinum rule.

Ensure that your employees remain appreciative

The concept of treating people well sounds great on paper. Assume you hire someone who is coming out of a toxic work environment. If you provide a nice bump in compensation and treat them well, they will be happy for a period of time. At some point (maybe six months, maybe a year) the honeymoon is over. They grow accustomed to their new situation. It just becomes the new normal. It’s as if they no longer fully appreciate what they have. The solution is making incremental bumps in compensation, in responsibility, and in recognition. If you are hiring someone that you are prepared to pay a $75,000 annual salary, and you know they would work for $60,000, hire them at $60,000 and bump them up by $5,000 every six months. This keeps them in appreciation mode for a longer period of time. You could make a similar move by gradually increasing their level of responsibility. As you do, titles can be helpful in ensuring that they feel valued and are recognized by colleagues. Then there is the simple concept of recognition for a job well done. If one of your people brings in a large account or does a great job on a project, mention it at a meeting or send an email to the entire department or company highlighting their success.  

Take Interest in the lives of your employees

People are complex. We have challenges and successes both inside and outside of work. Very often the personal challenges have an impact in the workplace. A high-energy salesperson going through a difficult divorce is probably not operating at the same level as she was prior to her marital issues. If you were to have regular open conversations with your people, where you discuss aspects of your personal life, they would probably share things from their life outside of work. It can begin as simple as a discussion of what they did over the weekend. As you have these interactions, take note of the names and circumstances of the family members they mention. When they tell you about an ongoing situation (whether good or bad) take interest. Ask for updates in future conversations. As you do, refer to their loved ones by name. If you hear that a family member is ill, provide them additional flexibility (ability to work from home, personal days etc.) to care for that person. As you do these things, they will see that you care. Caring creates security in the eyes of an employee. It also solidifies loyalty. I’ve heard countless stories of a boss providing an employee flexibility during a difficult time. The result is a loyal employee that will go above and beyond for their boss and for the company.

As humans, we thrive when we are in service to others. After your children, your employees represent the people on whom you have the greatest influence. Honor them, respect them, and care for them. Doing so will make you a great boss and the benefits to you and to your organization will be limitless.


Posted by Joel Brookman in happiness, Management, managing people and tagged , .


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