“I’m the boss.” That’s what a recent program participant replied. I was speaking at a business conference about managers developing strategies so that their employees like them. What was he saying? He implied that since he was the boss, he didn’t have to waste his time building rapport with his staff. I disagreed. He certainly can be an autocratic, tough nut as their leader. After all, as he pointed out, he’s the boss. Just because he can, though, doesn’t make it right. Here’s why.
I asked him, “Which do you want? Do you want your staff to do their jobs or do you want them to do their jobs well?” He said, “Of course I want them to do their jobs well.” Then your employees have to like you. What do you think? Do you find that you work harder for people you like? I always have.
It’s not that hard working people become slackers with dictator bosses, either. Hard workers will work hard to exceed their own performance standards. The hard workers just get stressed from working for the turkeys in business. Ultimately, in the long run, these hard workers become less effective with all the stress. Is that what you want from your employees? There’s certainly enough stress to go around in today’s business world. There’s no reason why managers have to be carriers (as in they don’t get ulcers, but they give them.)
Women managers have to make some tricky leadership decisions. If they’re less autocratic does that make them weak? If they’re autocratic does that make them the b word? If you’re a new manager, your margin for error is pretty small. Your subordinates are watching you–and talking to each other.
What should you do? The answer is to go with what the recent research in social neuroscience shows. The best managers create a positive mood in their teams. These managers are called socially intelligent. They make their employees feel good–and how can you not like these people? They also get the best business results.
What makes people feel good? Give subordinates a sincere compliment about the work they’ve done. How can you not like someone who takes the time to notice your work and tells you about it? You can say thanks to your employees when they’ve gone beyond the call of duty. Maintain an optimistic attitude around your staff and avoid bringing doom and gloom to the workplace. Listen to your subordinates. You don’t always have to agree. You do have to listen. In short, make your employees feel good. Do you think an attitude of “I’m the boss” does that? I certainly don’t.
You can tell any of your subordinates what they have to do. You just can’t make them do the work. All you can do is make them want to do what you’ve asked them to do. That’s what happens when people like you. Your employees will want to do the work for you–and do it well. So you get to pick your management strategy. After all, you’re the boss.