Be more than a manager; be a real boss with these tips


Having clear goals for employees is important as your small business grows.

By Henry Brown

As an employer, as your priorities grows your priorities will shift. The fingers-in-all-pies approach you might have had at the start will no longer work. You have to let the employees leave the nest and handle responsibilities on their own. This means your full-time job becomes a lot more about handling people than handling the day-to-day of the business. This transition is difficult for a lot of people. Here are a few pointers to help you see what you need to do, and how you get the best out of your team.

Communication is number one

Authority and respect for superiors are important in an office. But you have to make sure that employees are not so intimidated that they are afraid to communicate with you. Make it clear that the lines of communication are open and that disagreement is welcome. Push your employees if you believe they’re holding back from saying something to you. Keep an open door policy and make sure that that rest of your management team does the same. Expect questions and welcome them. Recognize initiative in your employees. A workplace that doesn’t communicate openly concisely will stagnate instead.

Give them a goal

The most crucial part of communicating in a busy workplace is that everyone knows what they have to do. But a task and a goal are different. If you’re just communicating tasks, it can feel isolating. It’s a good idea to have the overall goals of the workplace be common knowledge. A lot of businesses do it by placing a chalkboard in a prominent place with the workplace goals on them. When talking to employees about what they have to do, make sure they understand how their objectives relate to the overall goals of the time. At the same time, ensure that you’re not overloading them with information that isn’t relevant to what part they have to play in those goals.

Get them involved

Being open to communication is only one step to have a workplace culture that makes use of the talented minds inside it. There are different kinds of people. There are shy people and those who are self-conscious, not realizing they could have a lot to offer a discussion. You need to try different ways to get people engaged in the discussion.

For instance, at team meetings, ask for feedback, but ask for it in different ways. You could ask, for one, who agrees or disagrees with a certain point and why. You could even ask one to play devil’s advocate when an overwhelming consensus is shutting the conversation down. Time is very crucial in meetings, too. Don’t spend an hour at the start of the week lecturing them in a room. Having walking meetings with separate groups at a time, ten to fifteen minutes every other day. This gets people communicating more concisely. The physical engagement also makes it easier to be focused on the conversation, too.

Recognize and reward

If there’s one thing you want to avoid in any team, it’s complacency. Complacency arises for a whole slew of reasons. One of the most common, however, is that employees aren’t getting any positive feedback. It’s easy to spot when something is going wrong and bring it up. But a working team demands that effort be recognized. People should feel good about the work they’re doing. Not just when they go above and beyond, but when they keep things flowing regularly and smoothly. Reward those who keep the pace up.

Protect the team

That’s not to say that negative influences on the workplace shouldn’t be addressed. If someone is posing a problem, then they need to also be recognized. There are a lot of behavior types that can be a truly toxic influence on the workplace. People who don’t pull their weight will build a sense of unfairness and resentment. People who are all too happy to raise a dispute about other colleagues in public can break down the team cohesion. Negativity lingers a lot longer than positivity. You need to address behaviors that bring negativity into the office. Try and help anyone showing toxic behaviors to address the root of their problems. If they can’t, it may be better to just let them go. Different personality types should be welcome. But the cohesion and culture of the workplace are more important than an individual.

Settle things like a boss

Part of dealing with problems in the workplace is finding the best, least destructive way to deal with them. For instance, if you’re giving feedback, there’s a simple rule to follow. Make praise public, but keep criticism negative. Making criticism public only humiliates people and leaves the kind of negative impression you want to avoid. When it comes to disputes, complaints, and firing, you need a proper approach to them. You need to make sure your processes for dealing with them have a proper policy. Most important, you need to make sure they’re legally compliant. Advisors like Ellis Whittam should be considered if you’re worried your current policy has any gaps in it.

Know when a break is needed

Workflow is important. But it’s not more important than the employees who facilitate it. Dealing with health and safety concerns in the workplace is part of your responsibility. That goes for mental health, as well. You need to be paying attention for signs of stress amongst your workers. You should also be leading them in ways to deal with it. Know when things are piling on them and insist they take a break. Lead them in stress-reducing activities like walking out to get some lunch together. It’s not entirely uncommon to see bosses even leading their employees in a moment of meditation.

There’s no denying that it’s difficult being a boss. You have two jobs, now, in generating new business and leading a team of people. But if you keep the reins too tight on your team, your business and you will suffer in the long run.


Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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