How Does Your Boss Measure Up?

Exceptional Boss

10 Things Only Exceptional Bosses Give Employees

Good bosses have strong organizational skills. Good bosses have solid decision-making skills. Good bosses get important things done.

Exceptional bosses do all of the above — and more. (And we remember them forever.) Sure, they care about their company and customers, their vendors and suppliers. But most importantly, they care to an exceptional degree about the people who work for them.

And that’s why they’re so rare.

Extraordinary bosses give every employee:

1. Autonomy and independence.

Great organizations are built on optimizing processes and procedures. Still, every task doesn’t deserve a best practice or a micro-managed approach. (Here’s looking at you, manufacturing industry.)

Engagement and satisfaction are largely based on autonomy and independence. I care when it’s “mine.” I care when I’m in charge and feel empowered to do what’s right.

Plus, freedom breeds innovation: Even heavily process-oriented positions have room for different approaches. (Still looking at you, manufacturing.)

Whenever possible, give your employees the autonomy and independence to work the way they work best. When you do, they almost always find ways to do their jobs better than you imagined possible.

2. Clear expectations.

While every job should include some degree of independence, every job does also need basic expectations for how specific situations should be handled.

Criticize an employee for offering a discount to an irate customer today even though yesterday that was standard practice and you make that employee’s job impossible. Few things are more stressful than not knowing what is expected from one day to the next.

When an exceptional boss changes a standard or guideline, she communicates those changes first — and when that is not possible, she takes the time to explain why she made the decision she made, and what she expects in the future.

3. Meaningful objectives.

Almost everyone is competitive; often the best employees are extremely competitive–especially with themselves. Meaningful targets can create a sense of purpose and add a little meaning to even the most repetitive tasks.

Plus, goals are fun. Without a meaningful goal to shoot for, work is just work.

No one likes work.

4. A true sense of purpose.

Everyone likes to feel a part of something bigger. Everyone loves to feel that sense of teamwork and esprit de corps that turns a group of individuals into a real team.

The best missions involve making a real impact on the lives of the customers you serve. Let employees know what you want to achieve for your business, for your customers, and even your community. And if you can, let them create a few missions of their own.

Feeling a true purpose starts with knowing what to care about and, more importantly, why to care.

5. Opportunities to provide significant input.

Engaged employees have ideas; take away opportunities for them to make suggestions, or instantly disregard their ideas without consideration, and they immediately disengage.

That’s why exceptional bosses make it incredibly easy for employees to offer suggestions. They ask leading questions. They probe gently. They help employees feel comfortable proposing new ways to get things done. When an idea isn’t feasible, they always take the time to explain why.

Great bosses know that employees who make suggestions care about the company, so they ensure those employees know their input is valued — and appreciated.

6. A real sense of connection.

Every employee works for a paycheck (otherwise they would do volunteer work), but every employee wants to work for more than a paycheck: They want to work with and for people they respect and admire–and with and for people who respect and admire them.

That’s why a kind word, a quick discussion about family, an informal conversation to ask if an employee needs any help — those moments are much more important than group meetings or formal evaluations.

A true sense of connection is personal. That’s why exceptional bosses show they see and appreciate the person, not just the worker.

7. Reliable consistency.

Most people don’t mind a boss who is strict, demanding, and quick to offer (not always positive) feedback, as long as he or she treats every employee fairly.

(Great bosses treat each employee differently but they also treat every employee fairly. There’s a big difference.)

Exceptional bosses know the key to showing employees they are consistent and fair is communication: The more employees understand why a decision was made, the less likely they are to assume unfair treatment or favoritism.

8. Private criticism.

No employee is perfect. Every employee needs constructive feedback. Every employee deserves constructive feedback. Good bosses give that feedback.

Great bosses always do it in private.

9. Public praise.

Every employee — even a relatively poor performer — does something well. Every employeedeserves praise and appreciation. It’s easy to recognize some of your best employees because they’re consistently doing awesome things. (Maybe consistent recognition is a reason they’re your best employees? Something to think about.)

You might have to work hard to find reasons to recognize an employee who simply meets standards, but that’s okay: A few words of recognition–especially public recognition–may be the nudge an average performer needs to start becoming a great performer.

10. A chance for a meaningful future.

Every job should have the potential to lead to greater things. Exceptional bosses take the time to develop employees for the job they someday hope to land, even if that job is with another company.

How can you know what an employee hopes to do someday? Ask.

Employees will only care about your business after you first show you care about them. One of the best ways is to show that while you certainly have hopes for your company’s future, you also have hopes for your employees’ futures. – Jeff Haden

How NOT To Shake Hands

Hand shakes matter. They are an important part of our business (and personal) life. Getting it wrong can create awkward moments and distract from making a good first impression.

I am sure you have all been there when we meet someone new and as part of the initial introduction we shake their hands – but instead of the solid, firm and confident hand shake we expect, we get a limp fish, a crushing gripper, or a sweaty slip.

Getting your handshake wrong is a sure-fire way of not making a good first impression. My favourite handshake mistakes are:

  • The sweaty slip – some people have a natural tendency to get sweaty hands and many get them when they are nervous, that’s just normal. It can make shaking hands tricky in stressful situations such as job interviews. However, I think there is no excuse for a wet handshake. I sometimes get sweaty hands but I simply dry them on a piece of clothing before shaking someone’s hand.
  • The limp fish – not gripping the other person’s hand firm enough and then shaking from your wrist is a big mistake because the messages I receive about the other person doing that include: ‘I am not confident’ or ‘I am a push-over’.
  • The pinch – when someone pinches your fingers with their fingers. This is maybe something the Queen does, but has no place in real life. Again, this half-hearted handshake sends me signals like ‘I am not bothered about shaking your hands properly’ or ‘I don’t think you deserve a proper handshake’.
  • The hand-holder – where the person shaking your hand keeps holding on and thinks he is actually holding hands with you rather than shaking hands. After anything more than 3 shakes my natural instinct tells me to pull my hand back and say ‘let go, why are we holding hands now?’ My mind is then suddenly preoccupied with forcing myself not to pull my hand away, which means I am no longer concentrating on the introduction or anything the other person is saying.
  • The avoider – someone that doesn’t make eye contact when they shake your hand or someone that pulls their hand away too quickly. This again signals to me that they are either under-confident, very shy, or they don’t really want to meet me or shake my hand.
  • The crushing gripper – when you shake someone’s hand and it feels like they are crushing every single bone in your hand. A hand shake that is too firm will make anyone feel uncomfortable. It makes you think ‘is the person trying to hurt me on purpose?’ and triggers a natural ‘I need to run away’ instinct.

For me, all of these show that the person shaking my hand is lacking basic social skills and emotional intelligence. It might be that people are not really aware of how they are shaking hands. The good news is, you can change it from today.

I believe, a handshake should be made with:

  • confident attitude,
  • where you stand up with good posture,
  • where you smile,
  • where your hands interlink at the web of your hands (the part between your thumb and your index finder),
  • where there is a firm grip (not too limp, and not too strong),
  • where you make eye contact throughout,
  • where you shake 2 or 3 times from your elbow,
  • and then let go,
  • done!

Even if we try, we sometimes get it wrong. For whatever reason you might end up with an awkward grip (maybe even an unintentional pinch). Or someone shakes your hand unexpectedly when you have sweaty hands. In that situation it is best to simply say ‘sorry, don’t think that was a proper handshake – let’s try again’ or ‘sorry, my hands seem really wet, let me quickly wipe them before shaking your hand’. Always remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Last, but not least, there are cultural differences and customs to consider. What I have said here is appropriate for most of the Western World. However, I am regularly doing business in Asia and The Middle East where things can be different. What I have learnt is that people in China prefer a weaker handshake, that it is not always appropriate for a man to shake hands with a woman in most Islamic countries, and that people in Thailand don’t like shaking hands at all. – By Bernard Marr

Also, I found this little video from the Australian Government about the top 10 bad business handshakes amusing, hope you enjoy it too:

Why Providing Critical Feedback Can Be A Gift

Feedback

 

 

Rarely are managers, in any field, well prepared to deal with employees who need corrective input. In fact, we’ve heard all too often how the whole idea of being critical strikes a note of “being mean,” “acting arrogant,” or “hurting someone’s feelings.”

And yes, being critical can be all of those things when misunderstood or delivered without support, care, and kindness.

But when you understand that life well lived is a journey of growth and expansion, then there have to be teachers along the way to provide helpful input. When left to only our own devices, our own perspectives, our own experiences, we can only replicate what we already know. And that’s what causes people to be stuck in a rut, unable to take their work life forward in a manner that is continually challenging and transformative.

So, if you are a manager, a supervisor, in any way someone who has the responsibility and opportunity to help other employees improve, please see your role as a gift.

Magic Words

When you can touch another person’s potential—beyond what they currently understand about themselves— you have the opportunity to provide the gift of a larger vision of who they are, of how they can conduct their work life, even perhaps a larger sense of their true identity.

While that may be beyond the scope of your work as a manager, it is not outside the scope of touching someone’s life and career.

Sometimes people have to have their hearts broken open in order to receive new value about who they are, what they are truly capable of, and how they are viewed by others. And while this can be painful, even very painful on occasion, it is an essential element for professional and personal growth.

That’s why your words of critical feedback and reality messages about the need to improve can be Magic Words, providing the inspiration for your recipient to look beyond what they already know and embrace and actualize what you are suggesting is needed for their improvement.

Steer In Another Direction

You may have someone on your team or in your company who needs a frank and honest wake-up call, explaining how they are not a good fit for the company. When you lay out the specifics with care and respect, hopefully the individual can understand that they would be better off if they moved on rather than feel frustrated and continue to receive less than sterling performance ratings.

Sometimes you can steer the individual in a new direction within the company, but be prepared for this to be met with hurt feelings, skepticism, or flat out refusal. In either case, remember that your honest attempt to help has still been a wake-up call about reality. And that, in the long run, will be a gift whether or not the recipient can accept it as such.

Support, Support, Support

Even if you have to use fairly extreme criticism, putting someone on probation or on a PIP (performance improvement program), as long as you do so from a position of support for that individual’s well being, you are still providing the gift of reality.

Too often, people who end up in trouble on the job do so because they are caught up in unrealistic ideas about their talent and ability, their role in the company, or on the other hand fears of putting forth their true expertise. Either way, when you can present them with reality, providing examples of their behavioral problems and limitations, you provide a mirror of reality.

The primary gift of critical feedback, when delivered with respect, including specific examples the recipient can relate to, and ideas for concrete improvement is the advancement of the recipient’s grounding in reality. Yes, there’s that “reality” word again. Because the delivery of critical feedback needs to always provide support for the individual being more fully grounded in reality. That is the most solid basis for their choices going forward.