Friday, May 1, 2015

What You Can Learn From A Boss

Love this picture. Who's the boss in this one?
By ChadoNihi on Pixabay
I've had a few bosses over the years. In fact, I've had about fifteen or so. Some were great, some were difficult, but all of them have helped me become a better manager myself. The truth is, you can learn something from everyone you work with, but you learn best by trying to replicate good experiences.

So here's a little list of lessons I learned from various bosses. I can't say I always execute perfectly on these lessons, but they do stick around in my mind. See if you agree with any of these nuggets (not in chronological order to provide some anonymity, I suppose):

  • Trust your employees to get the work done - Make sure they have a plan, but if they want to take a break in the middle of the day and then work six more hours that night to complete the task, and they have proven to you that they can and will do it? Why would you stop them?
  • Be careful what you wish for - Pointing out the flaws in what other people are doing can lead to getting a chance to own it and fix those flaws. Just be ready to accept that challenge.
  • It's easy to fire people - laying people off who have been doing a good job is difficult and painful for everyone involved. But firing someone who has been given every opportunity and has brought the result on themselves through their own actions? Easy.
  • Be careful not to stab people in the back - Those that recognize what you have done may do the same to you.
  • Never let yourself be pigeonholed - You can do many jobs that you have never done before. 
  • Drive is sometimes more important than skills - If someone really wants to work on your team, and has a true interest in learning what it is that you do and do it well, that may work better in the long run than someone who just has the right skills.
  • Get organized - I had a boss that would be able to recall verbal statements made six months prior in a meeting from the organizational system she had in place. Amazing.
  • Your people are not human resources - OK, this is a George Carlin bit, but important to remember that people are people. Treat them as such. One boss I had was always concerned with making sure all the employees were happy or heading that way. Job satisfaction is great.
  • Always follow through - Build a plan. Execute the plan. Set checkpoints for yourself to make sure you are executing the plan. (Ties in with my overall belief on the power of deadlines).
  • Reward hard work - I had a boss that bought Mont Blanc pens and pencils for the entire team after a large project completed. I am certain he made more on the deal than the pens set him back, but that small luxury item to a young employee meant a whole lot.
  • Whatever you do, do it with passion - Doing work without passion is guaranteed to yield mediocre results, if any. Fail if you must. But do it all with passion and gusto for what you are doing. Try to be the best at what you do.
  • Find ways to keep good people - Good people are not necessarily 100% coin-operated. Find a way to engage people and understand what drives them, then coach them to that end, even if it means finding them a better job in the company.
So there's twelve lessons I've learned from various bosses I have had. What lessons have you learned from bosses? What have you learned not to do? I'd be interested, so let me know.