Better Boss Better Business.

Being a better boss today is not just about delivering the numbers, it is also about how you deliver the numbers.

How you adopt, adapt, and advance your culture and your purpose led strategy to incorporate everything from and to CSR, Diversity, Inclusion, Social Justice, Sustainability, Climate Change etc, along with the current daily demands of Brexit and the Pandemic.

A Boss whether good or not so good, plays a huge part in how much we enjoy our work

“Relationships with management are the top factor in employees’ job satisfaction, which in turn is the second most important determinant of employees’ overall well-being. Research shows that 75 percent of survey participants said that the most stressful aspect of their job was their immediate boss.” McKinsey 2021

After all, we have all heard it said Good people don’t leave good jobs, they leave bad bosses.

Below are 4 easy to implement actions to help you become the change you want to see and a better boss in a better business.

1. Get rid of pointless policy and process.

The things that challenge common sense given our covid19 experiences – As a parent I learnt the value of asking myself in parent child situations “does it really matter?”

If it does, address it. If it doesn’t, let it go.  Otherwise, risk jeopardising your relationships with employees, suppliers, and customers.

Imagine the easy to imagine situation when you receive a delivery that has duplicated the order quantities – supplier policy states the entire delivery must be returned and redelivered. Common sense suggests the required amounts are accepted signed for and the excess returned on the original delivery vehicle.

One that may be a little more challenging for the Accountants, is the amount of time spent checking every expense item that costs more in time, than the items cost to purchase.

Remote working practices enforced on us by the covid lockdown, certainly torpedoed the long-held assertion passed down the generations of office managers that, “one needs to be seen, to be seen to be working”. It’ll be interesting to see how the current debate on remote or office working, within the context of mental health and wellbeing works out – one or the other, or a hybrid blend.

I once brought a colleague in from another office to review how we did things in head office. I announced it to the staff and made it clear that the purpose was to identify processes that added little or no value or could be improved through on the job collaboration. The project was called Why do you do that? Try it, you might be surprised at some of the answers and opportunities it raises.

2. Avoid the quick and easy option when it comes to succession planning.

Whether you are a family run SME, a large National or Berkshire Hathaway looking to appoint a successor to the 90-year-old Warren Buffet, head of his $650billion conglomerate; be very clear on what the role requires to not only survive but thrive in the future.

The emotions, practices and satisfaction of work have probably changed more in the last 18 months than they have in the last 18 years and the requirements looked for in a Boss needs to reflect that. It’s less of the same old, same old, and more of the same, same, but different.

I can remember in my very early days at P&G when I asked what did I have to do to get promoted. Make yourself redundant Michael – an answer I only fully appreciated when being asked the same question by young guns. In short, once the business can function without you then we can move you on, without risking the business you leave behind.

I’ve witnessed directors make quick and easy appointments because it accelerated their career move, by sliding the wrong people into their soon to be vacated chair and in time, come to regret it.

Similarly, siblings being promoted beyond their capabilities, without the infrastructure, support, or training to survive and thrive as parents decide to call it a day and head to the beach.

If “bad leaders are the biggest risk companies face” (Warren Buffet) then possibly “good leaders who stay too long are not far behind” (The Economist).

3. Be approachable, available, and an active listener.

Now this can be risky because it makes you responsible and accountable for what happens next.

What you are going to do, with what you heard, and whatever your decision, you must respond.

I was once parachuted into an open plan commercial department from the Exec Floor – it wasn’t officially called the Exec Floor but that’s where all the directors offices were located, though I never discovered how the rest of the organisation referred to it – perhaps just the third floor (I hope).

My landing changed the dynamic of our previous team interactions, as now The Boss was looking over their shoulder or listening in on their conversations – or so it must have seemed, and no one performs consistently well if they think the Boss is watching them. The silence was deafening! Gradually the banter returned, and with it the interruptions as staff felt they had to defer to me. There were jokey suggestions made about me wearing a hat or raising a desk flag when I was busy on something like a board report, customer strategy or next year’s budget. Where previously meetings would have taken place in my third floor office, we had a glass office constructed at the end of the office – known as the fish tank – it never quite worked as well as the out of sight office but it looked great.

Since then, studies of open-plan offices have shown that they do not create the hoped-for collaborative effects. One study found that face to face interactions fell by 70% in open plan offices, in the absence of a physical barrier people create a fourth wall – indicating their desire for solitude by facial expressions, headphones or curt replies to questions.” (Bartleby)

The Why do you do that project, revealed an increase in email traffic between staff sitting at neighbouring desks, which had replaced previously held conversations following my arrival in the department. The project feedback also suggested that moving me off the floor into a corner office would be good for everyone … and it was!

“Really good bosses listen and change the way they behave, perhaps enabling a much more independent way of working. You can’t just tell people to work independently; you also have to change processes, such as how you’re meeting, how you’re communicating, to make that possible. For the boss, that can mean quite a bit of effort.”  (Tera Allas)

4. Remove obstacles to performance.

Often translated to remove all excuses for a poor performance. In the budgeting process I often challenged my sales and marketing to people with “in 12 months’ time don’t tell me you could have done x if only you’d had y – ask for it now and build it in.” Which went a long way to instil a sense of trust and confidence when it came to setting attainable objectives.

You may not have the budget that Pep Guardiola has at his disposal to produce the best football in Europe, but he is the first to recognise that everything possible has to be done to enable the players to perform better than the competition in every game, in every way. From taking care of every off pitch requirement (housing, gardening, transport, family, schooling) every aspect of training (physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, 1-2-1 coaching) to ensure every chance of a perfect on-the-job performance. (VAR willing).

A Better Boss makes every effort to make their employees’ lives easier – physically, mentally and emotionally, to enhance wellbeing, purpose, engagement and ultimately business performance. Better Boss Better Business!

Since 2013 I have been helping ambitious SMEs with their Strategic and Leadership challenges.

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Posted in leadership, process improvement
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