12 Things That Will Make You a Better Boss

By Brenda R. Smyth
Every year Gallup Polls show that roughly 50 – 60% of all employed Americans are completely satisfied with their bosses. These same polls show that just 30% of all employees are actively engaged at work. Managers, you have a job to do! But first, a little self-evaluation.

As the boss, you know there are a lot of things you can’t change about the work that needs to be done—demanding customers, tight schedules, evolving projects, etc. And you absolutely can’t please everyone all of the time. But it’s a fact that unengaged workers don’t produce. It’s also a fact that competition for great employees is tight, and usually when an employee leaves a company, it’s at least in part because of his or her manager.

What makes someone a good manager? The qualities of a bad boss? Are you making some mistakes that could drive employees away?
1. Communicate well and regularly. Help employees understand individual, team and company goals by giving clear directions. When they know what’s going on and what’s expected of them, they’re better able to prioritize and be successful (because they know how you define success).
2. Act and make decisions promptly. Progress takes good self-management and organization skills. When decisions or projects are delayed, the result is tighter deadlines, longer days and frustrated employees. Don’t be the source of delays.
3. Show appreciation or recognition often. Let employees know when they do something well—as often as possible. Pay attention to what they’re doing and say “good job” or “thank you.” Ask questions so you can stay up to date on progress. And know what motivates individual employees.
4. Don’t micromanage. Trust the employees you’ve chosen. Give experienced employees some freedom to solve problems and make choices, rather than trying to leave your mark on their projects. Micromanaging causes bottlenecks that slow progress and eventually makes your team unable to make decisions independently.
5. Walk the walk. If work hours are from 8:30 to 5, be there. Your team needs to see your commitment and willingness to get in the trenches. Experience things from your employees’ perspective.
6. Appreciate individual differences. No two people approach tasks the same way. Regardless of your personal likes and dislikes, see the value in different approaches and personalities. Take time to get to know each employee both personally and professionally.
7. Impress your people before trying to impress your boss. Your competence and helpfulness can inspire your team. When your work helps the team get things done, you won’t need to shine a spotlight on your abilities. Your team’s results will speak loudly to both them and your boss.
8. Take the high road when it comes to negativity. Employees want bosses who set an example for the culture they want. Don’t gossip, antagonize or pit employees against each other. These things can make workplaces more stressful.
9. Follow through. An employee delivers a completed project, an idea, a suggestion and then nothing happens. Show respect and credibility by following up with the employee and following through as promised.
10. Train well. Spend time onboarding new employees and bringing existing employees up to speed on new procedures and projects. This will clear the way to better understanding and outcomes.
11. Give both positive and negative feedback regularly. Constructive feedback is vital to employee growth. They need to hear from you daily about their work.
12. Stand by your employees and remove obstacles. Defend the employees who work for you. Step in to slay creeping project scopes, help with particularly difficult clients or remove roadblocks that are slowing progress. Employees (and bosses) sometimes make mistakes—handle these moments privately and respectfully.

Being the boss is a challenge. Being a GREAT boss takes consistent self-evaluation and continuous fine-tuning. With increasingly low unemployment, employees have options. Keep your team happier, make them more productive, and encourage them to stick around longer. Review and strengthen your management skills.

M & M s

Who Knew
M&M’s owe their success to the United States military, which was hungry for a candy that could hold up in GI’s pockets and backpacks and could be eaten without their trigger fingers getting sticky.
The original package of M&M’s contained brown, yellow, orange, red, green and violet-colored candies; violet was dropped in favor of tan in 1949. The red ones were also taken out of the mix, in 1976, not because they contained red dye no. 2; rather, it was because company officials were afraid that consumers would think they did.

Being Yourself at Work Makes You Healthier and More Productive

By Steve Bent
At work, it’s healthier and more productive just to be yourself, according to a new study from Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Memphis, Xavier University, Portland State University and the University of California, Berkeley. The study, “Stigma Expression Outcomes and Boundary Conditions: A Meta-Analysis” will appear in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Business and Psychology. It examines 65 studies focusing on what happens after people in a workplace disclose a stigmatized identity, such as sexual orientation, mental illness, physical disability or pregnancy.

Eden King, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of psychology at Rice, said the decision to express a stigmatized identity is highly complicated. “It has the potential for both positive and negative consequences,” she said. However, the research overwhelmingly indicates that people with non-visible stigmas (such as sexual orientation or health problems) who live openly at work are happier with their overall lives and more productive in the workplace. King said self-disclosure is typically a positive experience because it allows people to improve connections, form relationships with others and free their minds of unwanted thoughts.

Workers who expressed their non-visible stigmas experienced decreased job anxiety, decreased  role ambiguity, improved job satisfaction and increased commitment to their position. Outside of work, these workers reported decreased psychological stress and increased satisfaction with their lives. But the study found that the same results did not apply to people with visible traits, such as race, gender and physical disability.

“Identities that are immediately observable operate differently than those that are concealable,” King said. “The same kinds of difficult decisions about whether or not to disclose the identity — not to mention the questions of to whom, how, when and where to disclose those identities — are probably less central to their psychological experiences.” King said that because most people appreciate gaining new information about others, the expression of visible stigmas is likely to be less impactful. “Also, people react negatively to those who express or call attention to stigmas that are clearly visible to others, such as race or gender, as this may be seen as a form of advocacy or heightened pride in one’s identity,” she said.

The researchers said more work needs to be done to understand the motivations for expressing different stigmas. They hope this meta-analysis will be used to help workplaces and policymakers protect individuals with stigmas from discrimination.