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Be the Best Boss

Be the Best Boss

I’m a big believer in the self-talking power of the personal mission statement. Over the course of my life I have found it’s so helpful to periodically ask myself, “Who do I want to be, and how am I going to become that person?” The answer can, and invariably has changed over the course of the years. There are times I laugh at my own answers, and there are other times I take them very seriously. Every time I’ll focus better.

Because it works so well for me, I’ve tried using this question in the management coaching I do too, and I’ve found it’s exceptionally helpful for the newbie manager and newly-promoted supervisor, rephrasing it to, “Who do you want to be, and how will you become that person?” Middle management can be this vast land of no identity that people wander upon, hoping to find some well-worn trail of better direction.

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The thought I have for you today, is that that when you are a manager, wanting to “be the best boss ever” would be a really terrific personal mission. Here’s an excerpt from Managing with Aloha;

“To execute their jobs well, employees need teachers, coaches, cheerleaders and mentors, and that’s what managers need to be for them. Great managers relish the opportunity.

Instinctively most managers know this. It’s probably the reason that one of the earliest traps new supervisors often fall into is trying to be best friend or after-work beer buddy to their employees. Well, take it from someone who has seen this strategy backfire time and again; employees don’t really want you to be a father figure, second mother, best friend, soul mate, or even confidant. They want you to be their boss! A strategy-mapping, consistent, objective, organized and predictable boss with an inspiring vision, and a boss who has the same high expectations for everyone they manage—including themselves. You will seldom, if ever, come across employees who say that to you directly; however, when that’s what you deliver, many will thank you for being the kind of leader they wanted. They will recognize in you the manager they needed. They will sing your praises as their best boss ever.

When you hire people they come connected. Your employees have families and friends. Your role as their manager is a different one, and it is one they come on board expecting you to fill—boss! Your role is to support them in a way that will help them forge good relationships in the branches of the personal network they already have. You do so by keeping them positive and optimistic in their work.”

Think about the best boss you have ever had. Chances are that part of the reason that relationship worked so well for both of you is that there was no confusion of roles. Chances are, that person tried to be only one thing for you, a great boss. “Boss” can be someone people admire, someone people respect, and someone people count on and ask for mentorship from.

The only place you can find and benefit from a relationship like that, is at work.

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The work of being a manager can take on a whole new viewpoint of opportunity when you realize that this is who you can be for someone else. Being the “best boss ever” is a great role to pursue.

How to start? Here are some related posts:

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business. She fervently believes that work can inspire, and that great managers and leaders can change our lives for the better. You can also visit her on www.managingwithaloha.com. Rosa writes for Lifehack.org to freely offer her coaching to those of us who aspire to be greater than we are, for she also believes in us. Writing on What Great Managers Do is one of her favorite topics.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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