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How Do Your Managers Rate on The ‘Great Boss’ Checklist?

by on
in HR Soapbox

Great employees don't automatically make great managers. Supervising people requires a completely different skill set than actually performing the work at hand.

And becoming a great boss requires training and hard work, plus honest self-analysis and periodic reassessments.

A recent Memo to Managers column at our sister web site, The HR Specialist, laid out the following check­­list to guide managers in that analysis. Supervisors can use it to take stock of their people skills. Then, they can tuck it away, revisit it in six months and ask themselves: Am I working to maintain those strengths and abilities I already possess? Have I improved areas where I'm weak?

Look in the mirror

Place a check mark next to the behaviors that you feel confident you exhibit on a routine basis.


___ 1. Guide, don’t control. Don’t take a completely hands-off approach, but don’t micromanage either. Explain what needs to get done, but don’t dictate exactly how you want it done.

___ 2. Utilize employees’ strengths. All of your employees have something to offer. Identify, recognize and cultivate their specific skills.

___ 3. Empower employees. Give them the tools they need to succeed and the opportunities to learn new skills.

___ 4. Trust. Don’t second-guess your employees’ abilities. Believe that you hired good personnel.

___ 5. Take an active interest in em­­ployees as individuals. Inquire about their families and hobbies. Remember their birthdays. Offer condolences when necessary.

___ 6. Offer praise. Be quick to give a compliment for a job well done.

___ 7. Respect employees. Your position of authority doesn’t excuse belittling, abusing or humiliating workers, no matter how unintentional. Check that your tone isn’t condescending or parental, especially when giving in­­struc­­tions or critiques.

___ 8. Admit shortcomings and ask for help. There is no shame in admitting to an employee that they are more skilled in a particular area than you. Asking for help shows that you respect the employee’s knowledge.

___ 9. Have integrity. Avoid a “do as I say and not as I do” attitude. Hold yourself to the same standards to which you hold employees. Give credit where credit is due. For instance, if you use an idea from an employee in a proposal you submit to your boss, give the employee credit.

___ 10. Learn from your mistakes. It’s not enough to admit when you make mistakes. Learn not to repeat them. Otherwise, employees are going to consider your admissions of error and accompanying apologies as nothing more than lip service.

___ 11. Don’t play the blame game. In the face of adversity, look to solve the problem, not place blame. Employees value knowing that you have their backs. That doesn’t mean you should in­­sulate them against deserved discipline. Just don’t throw employees under the bus when they make honest mistakes.

___ 12. Give employees a voice. When­­­­ever possible, let them have a say in decisions that directly impact them. Also, ask them for feedback. If you cannot implement their suggestions, explain why.

___ 13. Listen, really listen, to what employees are saying.
Sometimes, you have to read between the lines or listen for what’s not said.

___ 14. Keep employees in the loop
. Let them know when, why and how decisions are made. Also, explain the reasons behind new policies or changes to existing policies.

___ 15. Keep things in perspective. Don’t go crazy over something trivial. Ask yourself, “Will this matter in a week from now?” If not, it might be best to just let it go.

___ 16. Don’t waste employees’ time.
Call meetings only when absolutely necessary. Have a clear agenda and be organized. Also, recognize that employees have lives outside of work and give them the flexibility to live it.

___ 17. Compromise. Meeting em­­ployees halfway goes a long way! Be careful, however, of compromising too often. If you do, employees may start to think they can bend your will whenever they want, and, in the process, lose respect for your authority.

___ 18. Be blunt, but tactful.
Don’t beat around the bush. Burying your message in small talk, for example, could result in the message getting lost.

___ 19. Hold all employees accountable, i.e., don’t play favorites.
Not only will a failure to treat similarly situated employees similarly pit them against each other, but it could also result in a discrimination claim.

___ 20. Open your door, and walk out of it
. It’s important for employees to know that your door is always open to them. But be careful of waiting for them to come to you. Make a habit of walking around the department and interacting with employees in their workspaces.

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