Start Your BAM Company off Right – Be a good boss

The reader may be about to start a company, but leadership or management may not be your skill set.  I have observed people start tour companies because of a passion for tourism; or a coffee company because they knew and loved the coffee industry; or a boat manufacturing business because they had architectural and boat building expertise.  But what about leading and managing?  For sure one short blog will not solve that deficiency, but a couple of things are so important to highlight here.

Employees join companies but leave managers. A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the No. 1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or immediate supervisor. 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself. In spite of how good a job may be, people will quit if the reporting relationship is not healthy. “People leave managers, not companies…in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue.”1

First, what makes a bad boss, one that makes employees quit the company?  Some of the behaviors that make the best people quit are:

1) False promises to get someone to do something, e. g. to accept a job or a responsibility

2) Taking credit for someone’s work to make yourself look better

3) Lies of omission by withholding relevant information.

4) Spreading rumors to damage someone’s reputation.

5) Cheating to get a financial or positional advantage.

Essentially this all boils down to integrity.  Employees want managers who are fair and honest. In the words of Warren Buffett, “Honesty is an expensive gift. Do not expect from cheap leaders.” A lack of integrity in a manager can make an employee lose passion for the job.

So be an integrous leader in every way and work at the following:

  • Have clear expectations. Every employee needs to know exactly what is expected of them. Be sure to clarify roles and make the connections clear as to why the job is important.  Some bosses love ambiguity, but it is only fair that each person be judged on what they agreed to do.
  • Learn to work with all generations and levels of employees. Refuse to show favoritism, and learn about generations different than your own.  For example, baby boomers like me need to realize that millennials think email is “old school” and they may prefer to work virtually. ” Respect is how to treat everyone, not just those you want to impress.” ~Richard Branson
  • Listen carefully and intently, not just to the words but try listening to all the signals (body language, tone, passion) so as to get the complete message. Andy Stanley quips, ” Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”
  • Give regular praise and recognition. A Gallup survey identified increased helpfulness, cooperation, punctuality, attendance, and length of service to be associated with regular praise. It is a nightmare to work under a manager who pushes their weight around and does not work at building relationships. Great leaders don’t talk down to their employees or make them feel inferior.
  • Help employees develop self-confidence by setting small goals to allow them to master a skill or have a measurable success. Set a goal that every employee will be better because you have provided an opportunity to grow.  This could involve opportunities to change job descriptions, gain further education, engage their passion, or other means of helping them improve and grow.
  • Give good feedback. In one study, 67% of employees said that this was the most important factors in a good boss.2 All staff needs to know how they are doing, as well as knowing how to expect feedback from their supervisor.
  • Learn to motivate and empower. This can be difficult because everyone is different, and in the words of one author, has differing “Love languages”. Learn what makes people unhappy and what makes them happy.  One BAM owner would take employees on overnight camping trips and the affirmation the workers received from that was very motivating. A good boss knows that by encouraging staff to make positive changes to improve quality, production, and a profitable bottom line, it will be a win-win situation for everyone.
  • Always take one for the team. It is important that employers save their employees from disaster, watching out for their welfare. Never throw anyone under the bus to save your own skin.  Too many bosses abuse their power, and this contributes to good employees leaving the company.
  • Never micromanage. “Hire well, manage little,” advises Warren Buffet.   Micromanagement stifles creativity, demoralizes and suffocates. Studies show having a bad boss raises a worker’s chance of having a heart attack by as much as 60%. The stress and anxiety caused by unfeasible targets, lack of support, unfair practices, and threats of punishment increase the risk of heart disease.
  • Be legitimately humble. Many bosses will never consider dirtying their hands with a menial task or filling in for a low-level employee. A really good boss is prepared to do even boring jobs. It is an excellent way of keeping in touch with reality in the workplace and is also a great way to bond with staff.

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

  1. Brigette Hyacinth, The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, 17, 2017.
  2. James Manktelow and Julian Birkinshaw are coauthors of Mind Tools for Managers: 100 Ways to Be a Better Boss, Wiley, April 2018.

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