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6 Simple Steps to Becoming a Better Boss

Written by
George Dickson
George Dickson

Nobody wants to be a bad boss. Most start out with aspirations of coaching the very best out of their team, playing the part of mentor, friend, and leader. It's a difficult line to walk though, and it only becomes harder when the pressure is on.

Luckily, there are some simple steps anyone can follow to help maintain the best relationship possible with their team. Here are six things we recently shared with Entrepreneur that you can try today:

1. Embrace employee autonomy

Have you ever had someone staring over your shoulder as you worked on a project? It's not only uncomfortable, micromanaging has proven time and time again to be an ineffective and wasteful strategy. In her Harvard Business Review article, "Micromanage at Your Peril," Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay explains that "...any gains realized from process improvements will be offset by the deleterious effects of disengagement."

Micromanagement isn't just exhausting for the people being micromanaged either; it requires excessive time and effort on the part of the micromanager — both of which could be better spent elsewhere.

Think about ways you can empower your team achieve greatness on their own terms. If they feel more productive at odd hours or in a unique environment, giving them the freedom to make that choice could have a positive impact on performance.

2. Unleash the power of peer evaluation

Nobody works more closely with someone than their peers. That proximity is an excellent source of insights into performance, and the daily contributions each team member makes. Constructive peer evaluations allow a leader to see a more complete picture of each team member's accomplishments, and step back from the position of pointing problems out, to a position of helping to resolve them.

3. Accept and solicit feedback

Feedback is a crucial tool most managers are aware of and employ regularly, but it's too often one way street. Employees are an untapped reservoir of vital information about process efficiency, company culture, and of course, management effectiveness.

Failing to take advantage of the information employees can provide is a mistake. Taking notice of, and taking action on employee feedback is an essential step in the evolutionary process of becoming a better boss — which brings us to the next item:

4. Back up words with action

There's a goldmine of information in employee feedback, but without action, it might as well be a mud puddle. If feedback reveals a problem, start working on fixing it. Today. Show the team you're listening to their feedback and working to resolve the issues they bring to the table. Large issues might require a great deal of work, but there's always a way to start on them in a meaningful and visible way.

Taking action on employee feedback quickly and effectively not only improves the issue that needed attention, it inspires confidence in a team when their leader immediately works to help overcome obstacles they face.

5. Followthrough is everything

"I owe you one."

Don't use this phrase unless you truly plan repay the favor right away. If too much time goes by, you might forget about the great deed or favor that needs to be repaid — but there's definitely one person who won't forget about it: your employee.

Strong manager-employee relationships are based on trust, and forgetting to follow through on commitments is a guaranteed way of shaking that trust.

6. Encourage mastery and inspire purpose

Have you ever been truly great at something? It's an immensely powerful feeling to master a skill. Building a culture that encourages and rewards mastery will help everyone produce the best work possible. Even better is inspiring a genuine sense of greater purpose associated with the products of that mastery.

Regularly show everyone on the team how important their role is. Give them a sense that their skills are valued, and they're being put to good use.

These six small steps represent a strong head-start on the journey toward becoming a better boss, but there will always be more action to take. What are some additional steps you would suggest to help become a better boss?

Originally published on March 25, 2015 → Last updated April 1, 2019

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George Dickson

George is dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures with thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition. George formerly managed content and community at Bonusly.


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