Dr. Peggy Drexler
June 07, 2014 12:53 pm

It takes a lot more than an open-door policy and a World’s #1 Boss mug to convince your employees you’re a good leader. In a 2012 Gallup survey, 60 percent of U.S. government employees reported being miserable at work not because of low pay or poor benefits, but because of their bosses. Studies show that bad bosses aren’t just a hit for morale; they’re a hit for business and profitability. A 2012 Harvard Business Review report noted that even expensive company perks like great health insurance and rewards systems mean nothing for productivity and loyalty if the boss is a bad leader. Good bosses lead employees to increase revenue, as proven by various studies conducted at big box stores like Sears, J.C. Penney, and Best Buy. In the case of Sears, when employee satisfaction improved by 5 percent, customer satisfaction improved enough to lead to a significant increase in revenue. This is why, more and more, underlings aren’t just subject to review but are asked for their feedback on their supervisors as well.
Practical tips:

Learn To Teach. Holding others back does not secure your own position. Studies show that those who mentor are more professionally successful than those who don’t. A 2012 study at the University of Texas, Austin, found that those who mentored gained a better understanding of their own strengths and limitations, solidified their understanding of certain career-related concepts, and were happier overall.

Pipe Down—And Then Up. It’s easy to spot a rude, belittling boss. But bad bosses are also defined by what they don’t do—that is, ask good questions, reach out to others, and praise and reinforce good behavior. Aim to recognize the good work or efforts of at least one employee a day. If you can’t find anything to compliment, sit staffers down and find out why they’re struggling, and how you can help.

Treat Staffers As Individuals, Not A Group. Instead of directing a group, aim to have individual relationships with each team member—know their strengths, weaknesses, and the specific priorities you hold for them. Your job—your responsibility to your own boss—is to improve the company, rather than hold it back. Others’ failings don’t reflect well on you. The bottom line is that as a boss, you are, truly, only as good as your worst employee.

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