You’re the Boss, But Are You A Good One?

Hr manager asking questions to female candidate

What spurred you on to make the jump from employee to employer?

Did you want to make your own hours and work at your own pace? Did you want to see your name on a desk placard with the words “Founder and CEO” engraved beneath it? Do you consider it a part of your legacy?

Or, like 40 per cent of the changing workforce, could you no longer tolerate your own boss (or your boss’s boss) for one reason or another and decide to strike out on your own? If so, you aren’t alone: Almost half of all U.S. workers change professions at one point or another in their careers and cite a bad boss as the reason. This doesn’t exclude small business enterprises: After all, more times than not, little space separates levels of management.

When asked, employees typically vary between two answers about why they left a job; bad bosses and better employment opportunities vie for first place. Other characteristics that led to a submitted letter of resignation included: Poor people skills (rather important when you’re meant to be a leader); poor organizational skills (also rather important for a leader); and an inability (or reluctance) to show appreciation for a job well done.

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You don’t want a revolving door of employees, nor do you want to become a doormat. You want to be known as the boss you want, not the boss you want to avoid. Here are a few pieces of advice to help with the former and to avoid the latter!

A photo of mature businesswoman examining documents at desk. Concentrated professional is analysing papers in office. Executive is in formals.

  • Don’t lose sight of the big picture. You start off with an ultimate goal, a dream for your company. Know where you want to know, keep that in mind, and make your plan to reach there.
  • Remember that this journey from start to apex will take time, but don’t mistakenly think your time is any more (or less) valuable than that of your employees. Show them the same sort of courtesy you expect: If you need them to work extra, let them know at the earliest opportunity, not the last moment. You wouldn’t appreciate last-minute notification of an absence, would you?
  • Be honest with your people. Let them know how they meet or exceed your expectations and how they can improve (tactfully, of course). When things go well, celebrate with them. When things go poorly, improve with them.
  • Don’t be afraid of your employees’ abilities. You hired them for a purpose, right? Let them shine and cast a favourable light on you and your business!
  • This might be your business, but unless you remain a solopreneur, you’ll employ others who need to remain in the know on just what you expect. Your people need to know their roles and responsibilities, and guess who needs to help explain that?
  • Be accountable for your business – that includes any mistakes made along the way. This venture might be brand new for you and your first employees may be brand new to the workforce. When, not if, they make a mistake, see what they learned from the experience. Use mistakes as learning experiences. Reprimand only to the extent required, encourage improvement, and watch as your team grows.
  • Your life doesn’t start when you open shop nor does it end when you lock up for the night. You shouldn’t expect those of your employees to, either. Fourteen per cent of employees cited disrespect of this balance as just cause to leave an employer.

Of course, the beginning of any new venture may require a little more time than normal, but that should not – and, in all likelihood, cannot – last indefinitely. Once you find your rhythm, seek a balance between your professional and personal lives. Try as best as you can to leave work at the office. Take time to be you, the individual, not you, the small business proprietor.


Related Article: WHY DO GOOD EMPLOYEES QUIT?

From time to time, true emergencies will pop up and encroach on your private time, but make sure to decompress and start the next business day fresh!

  • American entrepreneur Warren Buffett cited three things he looks for in employees: Intelligence, integrity, and energy. As a good boss, look for these traits and then let them flourish. Don’t micromanage your people. You believed in them enough to give them an opportunity, right?
  • Give them a chance to explore their creativity (with oversight, not overbearing). Give them a chance to make a pitch for your business; you might well be surprised by the homegrown ideas!
  • Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, remember: Things happen. An admired and respected manager accepts this as fact and deals with such changes as they come with:
    • A positive attitude;
    • A willingness to overcome;
    • And an ability to inspire his people to do the same

Do you have an inspirational figure upon whom you model yourself as a boss or leader? What advice might you give your younger self at the onset of your venture?

Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter
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