After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, May 21, 2012

How NOT to Boss

There are many ways of learning how to be a good boss.  One of the best methods is to have a great boss who teaches by example.  The most common is being under the thumb of a not-so-good boss.  

Most of us who have been in the workforce for over ten years have at some point enjoyed catering to the whims of a boss who is a) dictatorial; b) micromanaging; c) unprofessional; d) unintelligent; e) unintelligible d) mean; e) worthless; f) unappreciative; g); overbearing; h) lazy; i) I’m getting carried away here; let’s just assume the rest of the alphabet can be utilized.

Of course, there’s the chance that, regardless of how great “the boss” might be, it’s just not in the American spirit to want to be told what to do.  After all, does the pursuit of happiness include a micromanaging boss?

But the point I want to make today is that learning what NOT to do can be as important as learning what to do when you become “The Man”.  Here are a few of my personal and second-hand insights about the “nots” of being someone’s boss:

1.      Do NOT stand over someone’s shoulder as they work on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. (Contributed by my wife/ business partner).

2.      Do NOT be more lavish with criticism than with praise.  It’s less demoralizing to point out a mistake when the good stuff has been noticed as well.

3.      Do NOT expect your staff to have telepathic powers.  Explain what you want and why you want it.

4.      Do NOT talk about any of your reports to any other equal report.  Lack of trust and lack of respect go a long way toward creating a dysfunctional work group.

5.      Do NOT be a bad example.  If you expect your staff to obey the rules, obey the rules yourself.

6.      Do NOT expect the impossible.  Try to set deadlines that can be reached and workloads that can be accomplished.  Listen when you get a comment or suggestion regarding workload.

7.      Do NOT assign tasks to a completely unqualified person and expect good results.  It is management’s job to align tasks with a person’s abilities and training.

8.      Do NOT be rigid.  A little flexibility by the boss goes a long way toward increasing worker satisfaction and productivity.

9.      Do NOT issue a reprimand in public.

10.  Do NOT yell.  Often rewarding, rarely helpful.

 Of course, you can become an entrepreneur and be your own boss. But then when you gripe about the jerk, no one is listening. 

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