An article by Sandy Heydt of
In the hotel and resort business, we often remember our bad bosses more readily than we do our good ones, because the experience was so unpleasant and disappointing. And sometimes we are so harmed by the experience it can take us a long time to get over it.
Now think about the good bosses you have had. (I hope you have had at least one in your career.) Why were they good? Why was the experience working for them so invigorating and memorable? Wouldn’t you like to create such an environment for anyone under your area of supervision in your hotel or resort.?
It doesn’t matter if you are a General Manager of a hotel with hundreds of people ultimately reporting to you or a manager in a small organization with just one administrative assistant - everyone who interacts with others in a supervisory role should focus on making the environment around them supportive and motivating. In the long run, there is no other way to reach your goals.
There are a few areas that I have found are non-negotiable in being a good boss and creating an environment of achievement.
I am always amazed that so many people don’t treat others “below” them in the pecking order with respect. Think about how you treat your clients or boss and then remember that there is no reason you shouldn’t treat your direct reports in the same manner. People who work for you have to accomplish goals that determine whether or not you are successful. How about a simple please and thank you?
One time a boss told me that he didn’t know why he should thank me. After all, it was my job and what I was paid to do, and frankly, if I didn’t like it there were others in line waiting to have my job. How good do you think I felt coming to work every day?
Think about the opposite strategy. Thank people every day for doing their job. How about asking how their day is going? If they look stressed, ask if you can help or clarify an expectation.
The old golden rule works every time: treat others as you would like to be treated. Simple enough, so why don’t we do it all the time?
Be predictable in your behavior.
Stress is an inevitable part of life and work. We are always trying to get more done with less people, get out more contracts, generate more revenue…more, more, more. Management feels it and their staff feels it.
You can help people be more productive by creating a supportive work environment by being predictable to your staff, even if expectations are extremely high. Everyone is human, has a bad day, and feels frustrated. But the reason you are a manager is that you are expected to handle these situations with maturity and wisdom. So, be predictable in expectations and behavior.
This means that you should not be moody and grumpy to your staff. You should not change the rules every day, depending on your mood and stress levels. Don’t be easy on people one day and run them into the ground the next. Don’t crash around the office in a tizzy. Be a stable and supportive influence to your staff, even under pressure.
Sounds unrealistic you say? It isn’t. Even if your boss behaves poorly, don’t pass this on to your staff. Remember how it feels and that you can control your own responses to stress and difficulties.
If the rules change, explain why. Some days things just happen. Owners change their minds about something. Our bosses get pressured and tense. In this economy, it seems almost all businesses are behind in budgeted revenue.
But again, this doesn’t mean that the work environment for your staff needs to be unpleasant. Explain why things need to be done, and if the rules change, explain the reasons why. Everyone just wants to be in the loop, understand expectations and feel part of the team. Surprises confuse everyone and decreases productivity.
As a manager, you just can’t be afraid of giving constructive criticism and feedback. Many managers do not like this part of their job, but if you can’t do it, you should not be a manager of others. Have you ever had a boss who started acting differently to you, or perhaps you knew something was wrong but you didn’t know what? Perhaps this boss eventually told you what was bothering them about your behavior or performance, or perhaps you were up-front with them and came right out and asked them what the problem was. In either case, the boss did not handle it in the most productive way.
Why waste time by having an employee guess what is wrong or have you act out your displeasure without coming out with the exact issues that need to be addressed? Remember people can’t change if they aren’t sure what they are doing wrong. Deal with the problem immediately so there is no confusion about what went wrong or where expectations were missed. You’ll develop a greater sense of trust between you and your employees and you’ll get improved performances more quickly.
You know what they say about the “junk” rolling downhill. Just because you just got dumped on doesn’t mean you have to pass the negativity to the next person down the ladder. You can pass on deadlines and increased responsibility in a positive manner.
I have been in so many pressured and difficult situations, including those where I was asked in not such a nice way to get something done. My staff needed to assist me in completing a project on a short deadline. I was stressed and perhaps unhappy with my own boss. So, how much am I going to get out my staff by ordering them around, being short with them, telling them to do something without explaining what just happened?
Does it feel good to yell at someone after you have just been dressed down? Perhaps, but this just adds to the difficulty of the situation and will de-motivate staff and yield poor results. Take the high road. Treat your staff with respect. Explain the difficult situation, the time line and what is needed. Smile at them if you can. Ask for their help; pull them into your world. They will walk over coals for you.
Find out what is important to your staff. What do they do outside of work for fun, pleasure, with family and friends? Take a bit of time each week to keep up with what is going on with their world. Do this even if you really don’t care or aren’t interested. Remember that people are more than what they do from 9-5 and if you show an interest in them, they will feel more involved with you and ultimately more interested in pleasing you and assisting you meet your goals.
Find out what motivates people who report to you and then tailor your needs to their own. If they are motivated by money, then set up a bonus plan. If they are motivated by praise, publicly and privately praise them. If they want more responsibility, teach them to do more. And so on. Each person is motivated by something different. If you take the time to find out what each person on your team needs and focus on helping them meet their goals, they will return the favor to you in spades.
Don’t have time? You don’t have time for anything else. Period.
Ever been in a situation where you could cut the tension with a knife? How productive were you and how many mistakes did people make? I have worked in offices that were highly productive in extremely stressful situations where laughter was used as a way to keep people motivated and cut the tension. Don’t ever underestimate the value of laughter and don’t make the mistake of thinking if people are laughing they must not be working.
OK, now your work force likes coming to the office most days, feels supported by you, understands what they need to do, enjoys their surroundings and is motivated. What happens next? Is this some kind of useless HR hogwash where the “inmates are running the prison?”
Like golden autumn leaves of the season - our colleagues should be viewed as treasures.
Nope. Now you can put on the pressure and expect results. You want to break all revenue records and increase productivity? You want to wow your own boss by being on time with projects and showing imagination and creatively solving problems? Now you can expect your own team to join you in doing just these things. You will have a highly functioning team where other department managers will wonder how you did it.
Hold your team members accountable. Expect nothing but the best performances. Rely on them for last minute changes and long days when necessary. Push them hard to reach their maximum performance and provide you with what you need to succeed. Chances are they will come through for you, they will feel a great sense of accomplishment and you’ll win.
It really isn’t that hard to be a good boss. I don’t mean to imply that a safe and motivated work environment is one where people coast, or sit around and talk about their personal lives or where they are going to have lunch. This is an environment where people work hard, feel pushed and work as a team to get a superior job done.
What about a problem?
Sometimes you have a problem employee who just doesn’t get it. You do everything suggested above. They still don’t work hard. They make repeated mistakes or have an attitude. They are bringing the team down. Well, then you have to deal with that situation, but you can do so knowing that you did everything in your power to make them a successful part of the team.
I always felt that if a member of my team failed, I had to look at myself first to be sure that I did everything I could to help them succeed. And if I didn’t, then at least part of the failure was mine.
Good luck and be a good boss.
- from Sandy Heydt, Panetiere Marketing Advisors