Employees want to work for someone who they perceive as fair, open, and honest. Those are the qualities most often mentioned in surveys of employees about their managers and supervisors. Workers want to fell good about the person they report to and the company they work for.

This relationship between employee and supervisor is also the key to retention and engagement, according to the Gallup Organization. It has done extensive surveys and research on employee engagement by the development of 12 questions (Q12).

When employees were asked to consider their workplace relationships with their managers, the survey results revealed sharp differences between how engaged and actively disengaged employees feel. In answering the statement regarding managers, "This person and I have one of the strongest personal relationships in my life," 16% of engaged employees strongly agreed. In contrast, 80% of actively disengage employees strongly disagreed that their relationship with their manager was important.

Great bosses aren't born that way. There are no genetic traits for leadership; people learn the skills by seeing examples of positive managers. Here are some tips for you to become a great boss:
  • Be a great communicator. Employees rely on their boss for information and want to feel a part of the day to day decision. Information regarding performance, company plans, marketing, hiring, help employees do a better job. Communication is also the key to developing a positive relationship. Effective bosses listen and ask for employee opinions.
  • Set clear expectations. People perform best when they know exactly what is expected. Be clear with the details of what is being requested including time frames for completion. Let employees know that they can come to you if they need clarification or additional resources. Make sure that you don't set people up for failure by not providing adequate resources or equipment. I recently consulted with a company who was concerned about productivity within their support staff. I noticed that they had one centralized printer for six people. Each worker had to get up and retrieve their document from a pile whenever something needed to be printed. The company thought it was saving money by not buying $99 printers.
  • Offer helpful feedback. Effective bosses schedule frequent meetings with all their direct reports on a regular basis. Ideally this should occur once per week even if the meeting is only 5-10 minutes. Manage behavior and monitor performance. Behavior is what people do and performance is the measurable result of their behaviors. Forget trying to change attitudes or motivation. Be clear as to the behavior that is needed at work and the performance expected. If an employee falls short, make sure that you meet with them as soon as possible. It is much easier to correct problems when they are still small.
  • Be visible. Practice management by walking around (MBWA) or simply being available. Great bosses are visible and active. Make contact daily with as many employees as possible and they will get to know and trust you. Attend meetings and eat lunch in the cafeteria, not the management lounge. Every encounter is an opportunity to share information, coach, and encourage.
  • Let people know they are appreciated. Employees frequently report on surveys that the only time they hear from the boss is when there is negative feedback on their performance. Yet, encouraging positive performance is much more effective in promoting productivity. Employees want to know that their contributions are important and they are appreciated. Stop and thank folks who have done the extras. Send handwritten notes to employees that need some encouragement. Publicly praise employees in front of their peers.
  • Keep things interesting. Work, by definition, is still work. Even the best jobs can be monotonous and boring. Keep workers engaged by offering opportunities to learn and develop. Offer continuing education opportunities that build their resume and increase their skills. Employees frequently complain that there never is a pause in the new projects or initiatives to enjoy the successes. Have a celebration when a large project is completed or financial targets are reached. Post positive comments from customers on a bulletin board so everyone can see. Promote activities outside of work such as a ball game or sporting event. This builds camaraderie among the teams.
  • Have a sense of humor and admit mistakes. A little humor goes a long way in reducing stress and keeping things in perspective. After all, work is only a means to an end that for most of us means time with friends and family. Don't be afraid to admit mistakes; this keeps you human.
  • Go green. A recent poll on green employment by MonsterTRAK.com a job website geared toward students and entry-level hires, found that 80% of young professionals are interested in securing a job that has a positive impact on the environment. Ninety two percent would choose a company that is environmentally friendly. According to Barbara Haig of HAIG/JACKSON Communications, "Young people have been exposed since grade school to the risk of environmental problems. When employers focus on green issues, it sends a message that they are problem solvers and forward thinkers." For more information on going green, visit: www.haigjackson.com.
Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For her Free E-mail newsletter, please visit: The People Pro.

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