In praise of good bosses

Why do you stay on your current job? Is it the 401-K match? The nice dental insurance? Casual Fridays? Yeah, right. Chances are your relationship with your manager plays a significant role, since he or she is the umbilical cord that connects you to the organization. Through that connection comes a lot of the challenge, recognition, career growth and relationships that give meaning to your work.

When that connection is damaged or severed it’s likely you will move on. In fact, employee turnover is the organization’s red flag that the manager may need to change some behavior. For instance, there is the office manager who threw a telephone and just missed the head of an employee (she quit), or the manager who used profanity, insults and door slamming as a communication style with his employee (she quit, too). And that was just some of my mail from last week.

So, when you have a really good boss, it’s a relationship that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Why not take a moment to thank your manager for the positive things they do for you.

Here’s what the best bosses do:

§      They make a personal investment in your success.
They take the time to find out what you want out of your job and then they do what they can to help you achieve it. If you want to move up, they make sure you get opportunities to expand your skills and visibility. If you want to stay where you are, they help you keep your job interesting.

§      They believe in you--sometimes more than you believe in yourself.
They push you to try new things and encourage you to grow beyond what you think your capabilities are. Sometimes you feel stretched beyond your abilities, only to look back in amazement at what you’ve accomplished.

§      They believe in tough love.
They won’t let you off the hook. Sometimes they tell you things you don’t want to hear and hold you accountable for things you don’t want to do. But you know they have your best interests at heart.

§      They encourage and reinforce you when you do well.
Because their standards are high, you revel in their praise. You find you work harder for them than for anyone else because they make you proud of yourself.

§      They use mistakes as tools.
They are good observers and can zero in on a mistake, dissect it and help you figure out how to solve it. They are good teachers who use mistakes as a new challenge for you to conquer.

§      They give you enough face time.
They stop by and say hello. They and stop what they’re doing and listen when you interrupt them with a question. They make themselves available, in spite of a busy day. When you’re speaking, they make you feel as if you are an important person with something important to say.

§      They are demanding about the quality and quantity of your work but respect your need for quality of life.
They don’t lose sight of the organization’s need for results but they are sensitive to your personal and family commitments. They keep your job demanding but not based on sheer endurance. They are flexible about your schedule as long as your work is solid.

§      They help you set priorities and parameters.
They are good at channeling your energy toward the most relevant work for you and the organization. Sure "everything’s important" but they know your time and energy are finite resources. They are careful not to burn you out.

§      They are your political champions.
They are quick to spot bureaucratic busywork and political quagmires and do their best to buffer you from some of the ugly reality, so you are free to perform at your best.

§      They give you freedom to do the job and make decisions.
They describe the results they want without telling you exactly how to do it. They know the satisfaction and challenge lies in the process you figure out for yourself.

§      They involve you in decision-making.
They know that the more you are involved the more committed—and educated—you will be. They are smart enough to know what they don’t know and they rely on your input to help them make informed decisions.

Being a boss today is a demanding, sometimes thankless job. Why not let your manager know you appreciate his or her work…unless of course, he’s recently thrown a phone at you.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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