Being a boss is not just about being in charge. It’s about being a leader. There’s a difference between the two. Being in charge implies you are dictating the direction by force. Being a leader implies you can convincing people to follow your way of thinking. Being a leader is better than being simply ‘in charge’. How do you become a leader in business? How do you convince your employees you are doing the right things for the business? Partly through treating them well. Here’s how you can be a true leader and do the best for your employees.
Destroy Corporate Hierarchy
The idea of the corporate hierarchy has long been that you are worth more the higher in the business you are. This has translated into being better than those below you. You have more privileges the higher you go. The more flexibility you have to break the rules too. This develops an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality in the workforce. You are the bourgeoisie, and they are the proles. To get rid of this mentality, you need to be proactive. You need to make sure that being higher in the company does not make you superior. What is the point of rules if they are not followed by everyone?
Most businesses have a problem with management. There are too many levels, and any attempts to reduce them will only be a temporary measure. The key to good management is not an expansion but instead contraction. Working with a large workforce can be difficult. You need organisational staff to keep everybody on track. That said, if there are upwards of three levels of management separating you from the average worker, you are disconnected from the problems they face. You need to get in the trenches. You won’t understand the problems they have in their day to day work if you get second-hand information via a report. Numbers on a chart don’t mean anything to you. Seeing how people work gives you better insight and a better understanding.
Part of being a leader understands what your employees want and need. These wants and needs can be very varied. They can be anything from job-related wants, to things that need to be changed in the environment they work in. These wants and needs might even be personal. You might think that isn’t your problem. It is though. Problems you employees bring from home will affect their work. It could be the work is the cause of the problem, or at least making it worse. Health Assured Employee Assistance Programmes can help alleviate some of the problems workers commonly bring from home. It could be they need help or an immediate family member does. While this is ‘going an extra mile’ for some employers, it seems like the decent and natural thing to do for a good leader.
Full transparency in business is not always the best thing to do. Upper levels of business are uncertain and scary. However, keeping employees purposefully in the dark for business gain is not right. If you have plans to do something, you need to let them know as soon as possible. Not at the last minute. If you are going to outfit the computer software all over again, ask them about it. Is it a good idea? What features are needed in the new software? What worked before? Just pulling the rug from under your employees is not the right thing to do. Even if large scale changes are happening, they need significant warning to prepare for the adjustment period.
Always try to get the perspective of the employees. Completely off or on the record. That perspective can help you. If you are making moves that make their job harder, you are risking productivity. Sometimes a focus on productivity itself can be counter-intuitive and make the problem worse. A focus on targets is good. It makes the business, and the employees goal oriented. Do not focus on targets at the expense of good service. If the rush to hit targets each day is causing the employee to cut corners, you have to think about targets being the problem. You need to keep asking questions to get a feel for how your changes are impacting employees. Don’t just expect them to adjust and get on with it.
Make It Easier, Not Harder
Unless essential, don’t make your employees do more than they have to. When you keep layering more and more things onto their job, it makes it harder to complete their core tasks. Don’t be under the assumption that they are one hundred percent dedicated to the job. You will almost never find someone like that. You will almost never find someone who completely enjoys their job either. You need to remember they are doing this job because they want to earn money. Even if that is their only motivation for being here, that is at least some form of motivation. Don’t ask employees to go above and beyond their station constantly. A lot of jobs are thankless. They don’t get paid more for doing more. They certainly don’t get any commendations and special privileges either. Just make the job as easy and completable as possible.
Don’t Be A Pushover
Having the understanding qualities of a good leader should not make you a soft target. This means that when possible you need to lay down authority. You are the leader, and you lead by consent. When someone is acting unprofessionally, you need to start acting like a boss. Unprofessional conduct cannot be tolerated. Not performing the job correctly on purpose, stealing, harassment of other employees. None of that can be tolerated. Don’t allow it to continue. You are realistically the only one with the power to fix that. Ideally you’ll never have to fire anyone in such a way. So long as you are a good judge of character, the hiring process will at least weed these types of people out early on.
A good leader is made up of all the qualities above, and more. What makes a great leader is experience, and putting these qualities into practice.