If you're in charge of a company or team, small or large, you'll want to do your best to keep everyone keen, engaged and productive. Being a great boss involves walking a fine line between friendship and leadership - but the rewards are immense: high employee loyalty, improved results, fewer wasted resources and the ability to go on vacation without worrying that everything will fall apart without you.
Here are seven ways to build a great relationship with your team and to make sure that your employees stick around.
- Listen to Concerns and Grumbles
Make sure that colleagues feel you're approachable if they have concerns. Pay attention if someone raises a perceived problem - even if your first thought is to disagree. Sometimes, the new guy or a junior employee may spot inefficiencies that you and other old hands are blind to.
Pay attention to the general office atmosphere, too. Do your employees seem dejected, unenthusiastic or stressed? Give them a chance to talk about what's on their mind. Make changes where you can: sometimes, very small things can make a big difference in how people perceive you and their job.
- Be Accessible - Sometimes
As a boss, you want to be accessible to your team. You want people to feel that they can ask your advice or admit to a mistake or a problem. The alternative is living in blissful ignorance until all hell breaks loose around you...
However, you don't want to be too accessible, or your own work will suffer. Have a clear signal that indicates you're not available unless it's an emergency; closing your office door is a common and simple method.
- Delegate - Then Stay Hands Off
From the employee's point of view, there's nothing worse than being given a task - then having constant interruptions and suggestions from the boss on how to accomplish it.
Learn to delegate properly - then forget about the task. Let your employee complete it in their way, without you breathing down their neck. This will considerably lighten the stress for both of you! It also helps to train people to use their initiative and work without micromanagement.
- Access to Training
Try to ensure that every employee has access to training. People enjoy learning new things and feeling a sense of progression - plus, highly-trained, confident employees produce great results.
Create a corporate culture where everyone, even the most junior members, knows that they can work their way up. Don't neglect training in a rush for quick results: it can cause problems down the line if your more experienced members of staff leave.
- Update Everyone on Progress
Send out a company-wide email, or hold a short meeting, every once in a while to update everyone on the progress that's been made recently. You're the boss, so you have a very good picture of how all the cogs are working together to deliver significant results - but employees often only see the small part of the business that they're involved in.
Encouraging everyone to feel part of a team effort that's producing something worthwhile can create more satisfaction than simple monetary incentives, like pay rises.
- Bring Food and Arrange Treats!
One of the most well-received things you can do as a boss is to offer treats. This doesn't need to cost much - a few boxes of chocolates or packets of great cookies can be a lovely surprise treat, perhaps on a Friday afternoon.
If your team has just completed a big project or hit a significant milestone, consider arranging some sort of celebratory event - perhaps a lunch out, or an afternoon of activities. This does cost money (and person-hours) ... but it's another big way to create the sense of being a group of friends, not just colleagues.
- Say Thank You
This last point is a very simple one ... but it can mean so much. In the rush of day-to-day business, it's easy to forget to acknowledge people's hard work. But people are often much more motivated and encouraged by a few words of thanks and praise than by any other reward.
Make sure that you do thank and praise people for a job well done. Just a few words from the boss like Joe, I heard your presentation went down really well with the clients - great work! can make someone's day, and it hardly costs you any time at all.
Whether you are a boss yourself, or whether you have a great (or not so great!) boss, I'm sure you've got lots of ideas of how bosses can make the workplace experience great for everyone.