8 Tips to Be a Better Boss

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If you think you'd be a better boss than the one you have now, know what you're getting into before stepping on that first rung of the management ladder.

For some people, being  the boss might not make sense. Or dollars.

Last week, a new study revealed that managers spend almost one day out of the work week just dealing with their employees’ conflicts and personalities. Called Keeping the Peace, the survey of 1,000 managers by staffing firm Accountemps found that they spend, “on average, 18 percent of their time – more than seven hours a week or nine weeks per year – intervening in employee disputes.”

And a recession is just as hard on the boss as it is on the employees, says Accountemps Chairman Max Messmer. “For example, being chronically short-staffed can cause friction among employees,” he says, “as can an overly competitive work environment.”

But too many employees, when they first move into management, don’t realize how crucial and time-consuming this part of the job really is. They believe all they need to do is order their employees to produce, and they’ll climb the corporate ladder.

But that’s not the case. Or so says Google.

The search giant essentially set out to find out what makes a good boss – by searching itself. It analyzed everything from performance reviews to surveys to management awards – anything it could find by, well, Googling them.

The New York Times delved deep into the metrics last week in the story Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss, but the bottom-line results were “eight good behaviors” that the best bosses have mastered – and “be productive and results-oriented” is definitely on there. But it ranks fourth. The top three…

  1. “Be a good coach.”
  2. “Empower your team and don’t micromanage.”
  3. “Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being.”

As for your skill at the actual job your employees are doing? Well, that ranked eighth: “Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team.”

If you don’t mind minding your employees’ business (literally), then Accountemps offers this advice…

  1. Know when to step in. “You don’t want to interject every time a minor issue arises, but you can’t afford to turn a blind eye to problems that jeopardize the group’s output.”
  2. Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch. “When friction is clearly stemming from the actions of a single individual, remind that person that the ability to collaborate and treat coworkers with respect is a requirement of the job.”
  3. Help employees get to know each other. “Provide opportunities for your staff to interact in non-work activities, such as lunches or volunteer activities; familiarity can breed greater understanding.”
  4. Reward positive role models. Dole out praise, promotions, and choice assignments to individuals who contribute to a supportive work environment.”
  5. Make good hiring choices from the start. “Hiring individuals with excellent interpersonal skills who are a good fit with your organization’s culture will reduce the potential for future conflicts.”

What if you don’t like being the boss or an employee? Well, you can always work for yourself and by yourself. Here are 10 Tips for Working for Yourself – Without Working Yourself to Death.

Stacy Johnson

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