You earned a promotion at work and are thrilled about the possibilities. Then it occurs to you that you’ll be supervising some of the people you currently work with and find yourself asking, “What if I’m a bad boss?”
You may be highly skilled or smart, but that, alone may not make you a great boss. If you’ve had the unfortunate experience of a bad boss, you already know you don’t want to model your boss-like behavior on that person. But you need guidance so you don’t end up becoming the toxic boss you once worked for.
Now that other people are reporting to you, it’s your relationship with them that creates your success. And likewise, your failure.
Keep in mind that you’re not going to be liked by everyone. The job of boss comes with the unsavory parts, like holding people accountable. Also keep in mind that you can’t (and shouldn’t) be everyone’s friend. Be thoughtful about managing your relationships so you don’t make decisions you regret.
You can boost your a boss skills by using these five principles:
- Get to know the individuals. You don’t have to become BFFs to know what motivates, scares, or challenges each person. But having familiarity with your co-workers’ lives will give you a place to start conversations or connect with them on their level when things are difficult. Encourage collegiality among your team so you’re not doing all the relationship management on your own. It’s a shared responsibility.
- Talk up the importance of their work. Whether the job is creating forms or operating a drill press, the work of each person contributes to a bigger product or operation. Make sure your folks know how their work fits into that picture or operation, and why their contributions are valuable.
- Dream about the future. Whether it’s a work-related class, an extension course at a community college, or a staff meeting on retirement planning, encourage your team to invest in their future by learning and/or creating a retirement savings plan. People who challenge themselves to learn and grow on their own are likely to bring that same approach to work.
- Take it outside. If you need to talk with someone one-on-one, consider getting outside your office walls. Whether you sit in the park tucked away from prying ears or simply go outdoors to a spot where you can talk quietly, a walk in the fresh air will do you and your colleague good.
- Build an environment of mutual respect. You’re a leader to your crew, so they look to your example to inform how they operate at work. Mutual respect makes the difficult conversations less personal and gives your folks a place and voice at the table.
Why it matters
In addition to modeling good management practices, you’ll contribute to the overall mental health of your team. Strengthening their connections to other people, meaningful work, security in the future, nature, and status and respect could pay off in two ways: a team environment that’s on the healthy end of the spectrum and individuals with a greater tendency toward resilience.
And by the way, congratulations on your promotion! You’re going to be a great boss.
Image credit: Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels