How to Be a Good Boss — And Get Results


Congratulating a good boss

You can be the most likable guy and make friends with all your employees. Or you can choose to be the slave-driver who only is interested in results. Consider how grand life would be, however, if you knew how to be a good boss who was kind, generous and understanding — and who also achieved extraordinary results. Now that would be something to brag about.

John gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. He lets his staff clock in a few minutes late without saying anything, covers for workers who repeatedly call in sick on the Monday after payday, and allows employees to take personal calls at will. He’s nice to them and he can’t figure out why he continually misses deadlines and has to work overtime to meet his production goals.

Joan, on the other hand, does not put up with a single infraction. She writes up employees every time they are late and demands prompt delivery of work with threats of firing for missed deadlines. She’s only following the rules, so she wonders why she has such high turnover and a considerable lack of creativity and ingenuity in her teams.

Jerry Knows How to Be a Good Boss

Jerry is fair and even-handed. He plays by the rules, but is willing to hear plausible reasons why employees might be late occasionally. He takes the time to sit down with those who consistently come in late to find out what’s really going on with them. He offers to change schedules with some to make it easier for them to meet their obligations. But he won’t hesitate to fire someone who perpetuates unacceptable behavior after he’s made certain concessions.

Jerry’s staff sees that he knows how to be a good boss, because he is the first one to roll up his sleeves and dig into the work when deadlines loom. They see him practice what he preaches. Jerry really listens to his employees, motivates with praise, and shows genuine concern for their challenges, offering options whenever feasible. Jerry has very little turnover in his department while meeting or exceeding his goals on a regular basis.

General Signs of Good Leadership

You may not have had the opportunity to learn how to be a good boss in your own career. The chances are better than good that you had a John or Joan in your past. You’re in good company. A survey by Glassdoor in 2013 revealed that 53 percent of workers would stay with their jobs longer if they had supervision from managers who knew how to be a good boss.

At the same time, two in five respondents said they work harder for a demanding boss. While you may get more mileage with a big stick, you may get those same hard workers to stick around longer if you smeared them with a little honey now and then.
Ideally, a good boss:

  • Has integrity

  • Supports and advocates for employees

  • Mentors and coaches employees

  • Recognizes and rewards hard work

  • Communicates effectively

  • Shows genuine concern

  • Shares his vision, plans and goals with the team

  • Is an industry expert

  • Encourages innovation and creativity

  • Shares the glory

  • Incentivizes productivity

Good Bosses Promote Retention

Good boss

High retention rates, or low turnover rates, are one of the most telling traits that indicate you’ve learned how to be a good boss. When bad bosses constitute the main reason people quit their jobs, that’s reason to sit up and take notice. And even when you aren’t the main reason people leave, when you discover how to be a good boss, you can play a significant role in keeping those who may be considering a move for other reasons.

While you shouldn’t try to be buddies with every member of your team, you do need to develop a relationship with each employee. A positive relationship builds confidence in your staff, increases employee confidence in you, promotes retention with the company and boosts the commitment level of your employees.

Take Action

Learning how to be a good boss takes dedication and sometimes even a little trial and error. Here are a few positive steps you can take to get you closer to the “good boss” designation:

  1. Set very clear expectations so your staff knows exactly what it takes to earn an excellent job review. Tell your team what your priorities are and what results you expect from them — and when you expect them. Don’t leave them guessing.

  2. Provide solid, specific feedback on a regular basis. In addition to annual performance reviews, meet individually with each team member to review issues, plans and progress. When you give praise, indicate exactly why you’re pleased.

  3. Literally leave your door open at times for employees to approach you. Take an interest in the personal lives of your staff and share your own interests, when appropriate. Remain approachable.

  4. Allow your team to make mistakes. Fearless leaders know that innovation can’t occur without employees willing to take chances. When they know you have their backs, your staff will appreciate opportunities to grow with the company.

  5. Always tell the truth. Lying is one of the quickest ways to lose the respect of your employees. If you are prohibited from sharing some company secret, then tell them that you will share news as soon as you’re able, or at least explain as much as you can.

  6. Take classes, workshops and seminars that teach you how to be a good boss. Read books about effective leadership and find your own mentors to help you become a great leader. While you may possess some innate traits that make you a good boss, you still need to hone your craft to fully develop your capabilities.

Prove It!

World's Best Boss Mug

You’ll know when you’ve learned how to be a good boss. The signs will be very apparent. And you won’t have to wait until you receive a “World’s Greatest Boss” coffee mug either. You and your employees will have fun at work. You’ll reach your goals and even exceed your expectations. Your turnover rate will shrink, and you will have more people wanting to come to work with you than you can find room for. In other words, you’ll become a talent magnet when you master how to be a good boss.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Kimmel & Associates

Kimmel & Associates

Marketing & Communcations

Kimmel is an executive search firm located in Asheville, North Carolina. Our professional recruiters are committed to exceeding client expectations. They work with the same dedication, honesty, and attitude of service that has been the Kimmel standard for over 34 years.

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