Almost everyone that has been in the workforce for a length of time can probably tell a story of a boss that they didn’t like, a tyrant, a dictator, an all around unpleasant individual. Now that you are the boss and have people working under you, whether that be in a business of your own or a management position somewhere, the question that you should be asking yourself is what do your employees think about you? Will they be thinking about you in 20 years from now when they are telling their story of a boss that was unpleasant to work for?
Don’t get me wrong, as the “boss” I am not here to win a popularity contest, I am not looking to make new friends, or drinking buddies, or to fill in that extra chair on poker night, when I hire someone to do a job I have certain expectations and anything less is simply unacceptable. Those that have worked for me will tell you that I am tough, and I am picky. I am not running a preschool; if I wanted to be a babysitter I would have started a child care center. But I have always tried to be fair, and I am a firm believer that you can be a friendly boss without having to give up on any of your expectations. I believe that as the boss it is up to me to create the atmosphere that my employees have to spend a large part of their day in; if that atmosphere is not a positive one, a comfortable one, and yes even a happy one than I have a problem, I will have created an atmosphere of unhappiness, and an unhappy employee is not a productive employee. Listen none of us wants to work for a living, we all want to win the lottery and we all want to wake up and have to make the difficult decision of whether we are going to spend our day golfing or sailing, but unfortunately for most of us we are never going to win the lottery, we have to work for a living and so do the people that work for us, and by creating an atmosphere that people enjoy being in you will create a much more productive employee. Like I said you can have high expectations, just not unreasonable ones, remember those people that walk through that door each day do not stop being individuals, there is no invisible magic scanner that removes their personalities for eight hours, they still have families at home, bills to pay, worries, hopes, fears, and dreams, and all of this should be embraced.
I have seen the difference in call center teams where one manager was super strict and no food, no music, no reading material of any kind, no talking to your neighbor, nothing was allowed, just answer the phone when it rings and do your job, versus another team in the same building where the manager allowed small snacks, drinks as long as they were in a spill proof cup, magazines, small radios on the desk as long as they were not turned up too loud, it was okay to talk to your neighbor on either side of you as long as you were at your desk and not bothering anyone who was on the phone, and most importantly that you answered calls on the first ring and did the job that you were supposed to do. The latter team had better numbers, sales were higher, and everyone on the first team wanted to be on this team. The manager had high expectations, coached her employees on the calls they made, provided constant team building exercises, and was considered a part of the team not just the boss; this team was successful.
So ask yourself this question, “Would you want to work for you?” Be objective and really look at your management style externally. If the answer is no you wouldn’t want to work for yourself, than perhaps it’s time for a change in management style….