How to Become a Truly Likable Boss
One of the biggest fallacies you’ll hear about good managers is that they usually aren’t very likable; that the most effective bosses are usually tyrants who put the success of the business ahead of being nice to their employees.
That’s absolutely untrue, especially in today’s workplace. In the modern business world, so much relies on a boss’ ability to not only motivate workers but also keep them happy – especially the best ones. With all the job-hopping that goes on these days, bosses you aren’t able to retain their best employees simply can’t be viewed as being successful at managing their staff, regardless of whether the business is making money or not.
Employees, especially great ones, are a huge commodity these days, and according to many surveys, like this one, employees tend to run from companies that have unlikable bosses. If your employee do not feel that you are a supportive and good leader, they are not going to work hard for you and they are definitely not going to stay loyal to your company for long.
Studies have shown that great bosses lead to better employee engagement. As the business world evolves, so does the definition of a “great boss.” Bosses and high-level managers have very diversified roles these days and responsibilities that are constantly changing and morphing into something new.
So what makes a boss great?
A great boss needs to create an atmosphere in which employees are empowered and motivated to perform well. Great managers are able to create a healthy atmosphere where teamwork is naturally promoted and healthy competition is easily achieved.
Good managers need to know their staff well and employees need to trust their leadership. The team needs to be united under one flag, collaboration needs to be organic and there needs to be a high level of good communication and transparency present across all levels of the company.
Great bosses are proactive when addressing team needs, problems or shortcomings. They are able to achieve a positive workplace atmosphere in which employees are engaged and motivated to work hard.
And in the end, all of these goals can be much more easily achieved if your employees like you.
Contrary to popular belief, a likable boss is not a pushover. Your team can like you and respect you at the same time. It’s all depends on whether or not you are gaining their respect and admiration the right way.
You can be both a strong leader and a likable one, here’s how.
Give Your Employees Independence
We’ve talked a lot already about empowering employees in order to motivate them to succeed. To that end, there’s nothing more empowering than giving your employees a higher level of independence in their day-to-day responsibilities.
Giving employees independence is not about letting them do what they want without having to listen to anyone in management, it’s about guiding them to do the right things without having to explicitly order them to do so. Most of all, it’s about trusting them to make the right decisions and doing the right things independently.
This is what most employees crave, especially Millennials. Younger workers want challenges and they want the ability to showcase their talents. That’s why loosening the grip a bit is necessary step that all good bosses must take. Employees thrive in an atmosphere in which managers encourage them to work more independently and trust their instincts. According to this study, giving your employees more autonomy not only motivates them, it also keeps them happy.
Of course, with additional independence you are increasing the chances of employees making mistakes. But that’s completely fine. The trick is in handling these mistakes the right way. Beloved bosses know how to deal with employee mistakes the right way. The last thing you want to breed is an atmosphere in which your staff members are afraid to make mistakes because they are terrified of your potential reaction to the error.
When employees are afraid to make mistakes, they usually end up doing a lot less at work. The best and most well-liked bosses encourage employees to experiment and fail, but also know how to react to these mistakes and coach their staff members to use them as learning experiences that will make them better workers in the long run.
Know Everyone’s Role
Employees love bosses who actually understand what everyone’s role in the company entails. A good boss is able to relate to what you are working on and also empathize with and understand any of the problems you might be going through as a worker.
If you don’t understand the work that your employees are doing, it’s going to be hard for you to relate to them and understand their needs. Of course, no one can be an expert on everything, but it doesn’t hurt to at least know the basics.
There’s always room to grow.
Sharpen your HR skills with the latest research and best practices in workforce management. Get Humanity’s Definitive Guide to Enterprise Workforce Scheduling.Get your free copy
For example, most restaurant employees say that the best bosses are the ones who have previous experience working as hourly employees in restaurants before graduating to managerial roles. They have an in-depth understanding of what it takes to run a successful restaurant from the inside and they are able to empathize with the struggles that their workers face on a day-to-day basis.
When you know about the challenges they face and you are able to coach them along the way instead of just barking out orders and setting deadlines, you’re able to achieve a sort of “comfort zone” in the workplace. This usually results in coming across to your staff as a more relatable and understanding boss.
Make Good Communication a Priority
Likable bosses understand that good communication is a need foundation for team success. They want to hear input from their employees, they value the opinions of their staff and they want to keep the lines of communication open in order to achieve an atmosphere of transparency and trust across the board.
Great communication is important for a lot of reasons. Bosses who are good communicators are more trusted by their team. Employees who are always on the same page as their bosses are inherently happier at work because of it and having good communication makes it easier to avoid or defuse conflicts in the workplace if they do arise.
Employees don’t like to work in a state of ambiguity. They thrive when the lines of communication are open between management and staff and feel empowered when they are encouraged to share their thoughts, questions and even criticisms with management. When bosses care enough to openly ask employees for feedback, it gives staff members the feeling that they are respected and truly needed in the workplace, which directly inspires and motivates them to achieve their potential.
Get To Know Staff on a Personal Level
Good bosses appreciate their employees on a personal level as well. Obviously, you don’t have to be best buddies with your employees, but showing interest in their lives outside of work can be very endearing. When bosses show that they understand that you have a life outside of work that is just as important as what you are doing during your shift, employees tend to appreciate it.
In the end, it’s all about employee happiness. The more content they are working for you, the more they like you and feel the need to continue working for you. So if you truly want to get the most out of your hourly staff and keep them motivated and engaged, show them that you care for them on a more personal level.
Ask them if they have families or if they are attending school and if there’s anything that you can do to make it easier for them to tend to these obligations. Ask your employees what their availability looks like and if there’s anything management can do in the scheduling process to make their work lives and personal lives better organized and integrated.
Listen to and address your employees’ needs and be respectful and understanding towards not just what they do at work, but what they do and who they are once they’ve clocked out of their shifts.
Offer Your Employees a Support System
There’s nothing that employees love more than a boss that is ready to step up to bat for them and support them. The best and most likable bosses trust their employees and provide a supportive environment in which it’s very clear that everyone is on the same team.
One of the best ways to show your employees that you support them is by investing in their professional development. Putting resources towards making your employees better at what they do is one of the best ways you can spend your money. Not only are you engaging your employees that way and showing them that you truly want them with you for the long run, you are also creating better employees in the process.
Another fantastic side effect of investing in your employees is that you’re going to be able to promote from within when the time comes to find new leaders. A recent study shows that external hires almost always get paid more to under-perform and that by hiring from within, you are getting the most bang for your buck. It’s simply better to breed leaders within your company than to try to find them elsewhere. Think of it having your very own farm team that’s getting your players prepared for the big leagues.
Providing support and development opportunities for your employees also helps with retention. Studies have shown that employees desire good relationships at work and a chance to develop their skills and knowledge far more than raises.
Employees love it when they know what they are getting with a boss. They value consistency because knowing what to expect from management can definitely decrease stress levels at work, compared to having a boss who is your best buddy one day and screaming at you the next.
One study shows that employees who are treated inconsistently end up experiencing significantly more stress at work than both employees who are consistently treated fairly or even unfairly.
Employees like bosses who walk the walk. Good bosses are consistent, stick to their plans and are true to their words. Bosses who don’t waver in their decision-making become role models and are more readily viewed as strong leaders. Consistency also earns the respect of your employees. If you want your staff to love you, be a man or woman of your word and earn their trust by being steadfast and honorable in every decision that you make.
The less erratic you are, the more comfortable your employees will feel around you and the more they will trust you and enjoy working for you.