You’re Probably a Really Bad Boss

The best managers have a completely different understanding of what the company, workplace environment, and team dynamics are. Great bosses understand how to cultivate and empower their employees so that the workplace becomes positive, happy and productive destination. I’ve consulted quite a few companies over the years in many different industries, and I’ve learned that really great bosses tend to share many of the same traits. Here are a few:

1. Business is not a battlefield, a war, or a football game. It’s a living, breathing environment.

Bad bosses see business as a competition between companies, departments, teams and people. They build an army of “troops” to order around, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customer service as a “necessary evil.” They often try to pit one employee against another.

Great bosses understand that companies that are the most diverse are the ones that are most likely to thrive. They instinctively create teams that adapt easily to change, are open to developing new markets and new ideas, and that can quickly form partnerships with other in-house teams, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is not a machine. It’s a community.

Bad bosses consider their company to be a well-oiled machine and the employees as cogs in the wheels. They create rigid structures with inflexible rules and then attempt to maintain control by using those structures and rules to keep employees in their place.

Great bosses see their company as a diverse collection of people, all of whom have their own individual hopes and dreams. They inspire employees to achieve success and they encourage them to celebrate the success of their peers and their company.

3. Management is not control. It’s partnership.

Bad bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re mindful of anything that smacks of insubordination and they tend to create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “whatever the boss wants” mentality.

Great bosses hire great people who are good at what they do and then they leave them alone. They set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done right. They push decision making downward, allowing teams to form their own rules, make their own choices, handle their own problems, and they intervene only in case of emergency…or if they’re asked for input.

4. Employees are not your children. They’re your peers.

Bad bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if they are not overseen by a patriarch. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their asses.

Great bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person on staff. The attitude of “excellence is expected everywhere,” permeates the environment, so employees at all levels feel empowered taking charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation does not come from fear. It comes from collaborative vision and inspiring leadership.

Bad bosses see fear–of getting fired, of loss of title, of getting reprimanded–as one of the top ways to motivate people. As a result, employees and managers all become paralyzed and unable to make the decisions that might help a company move forward.

Great bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it. As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change does not cause pain. Change results in growth.

Bad bosses see change as complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a company is in desperately bad shape. They torpedo change … until it’s too late.

Great bosses see change as an inevitable, exciting part of being in business. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and management embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology should not replace the human touch. It should offer empowerment.

Bad bosses adhere to the antiquated view that technology is a way to strengthen control, track what employees are doing, and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees, and usually anger customers.

Great bosses see technology as a way to free up their people so that they have time to be more creative and to help them build better relationships, respond more quickly to customers’ needs, and interact with their peers. They adapt their systems to the tools–like smartphones and tablets–that people actually use on a daily basis.

8. Work should not be W-O-R-K. It should be fun. It should be something that encourages passion for something greater than oneself. It should reward creativity and performance.

Bad bosses assume that employees hate their jobs. So basically they see themselves as “mean old bosses” and their employees as “poor succors.” Everyone then behaves accordingly.

Great bosses see work as something that should be enjoyable; something that good employees can be passionate about. They embrace and encourage the mindset that they are there to put people in jobs that will make them happy, provide them with fulfillment and confidence, and rewards for performance.

What kind of boss are you?

8 Comments

    • Joan Gerberding

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