Thursday, November 06, 2008

How to be a boss employees actually like

Recently I was talking to someone who works in HR about how I recently left my job to go freelance. By way of explanation I said "Well, my boss left, and after that ... you know." (Eloquent!) Of course, she did know; she says she hears this all the time in her work. It got me thinking about why it was that I loved S. so much. (We're still in touch, as she is now my editor's boss over at my About site, but we don't talk every day anymore.)

First, she was a great communicator. Clear, constructive, funny, friendly, open. Another editor I once worked for would return copy with the words "pls fix" scrawled at random in the margin (fix what?!). Not S.; she could tell you just what you needed to do, in a way that made you feel quite capable of doing it. She would also share everything she could with us about what was going on elsewhere in the company. While she was discreet when she needed to be, she didn't see any value in withholding information just to bolster her authority.

She was also a great protector. She shielded her staff from pointless bureaucracy, ugly people, useless meetings, and waste-of-time tasks. When she left ... oy. Then we really knew just how much she'd done for us.

Not surprisingly, S. was motivating. Because it was so clear she cared about us (see items 1 and 2 above), we naturally wanted to please her. She made it easy by offering plenty of support and trust--like embracing my idea to telecommute from 1000 miles away. She knew how to praise our successes and gently help us fix our mistakes.

Lastly, she could drink me under the table any day of the week. I miss that lady.

12 comments:

mothergoosemouse said...

Three and a half years has dulled the pain of leaving a job I loved, but this post brought it all right back. I know how much you loved working for S. and how much you miss her, and right now I'm missing my former co-workers with similar intensity.

Good summary of how to be a fabulous boss. Spot on.

Magpie said...

I had a boss like that once. She was terrific, and I learned a lot from her. It's a rare trait.

ewe are here said...

Good bosses are hard to find.

My last boss (oh so long ago) was an *sshat. Could not wait to leave.

TC said...

You totally described my two-jobs-ago boss.

I think the drinking me under the table was my favorite part. There's a lot to be said for a boss who wants to drink with you...and with whom you want to drink.

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

Hopefully my guys feel that way about me. Especially that last part.

the mama bird diaries said...

There is nothing like a great boss.

It's unfortunate that there are so many bad ones out there.

Lady M said...

The best boss I ever had is now a neighbor, which is kind of cool. Her children are going to be my babysitters!

Early on, I had a boss who regularly made other members of my team cry. Not on purpose, and the gals were indeed a bit oversensitive, but he was definitely clueless.

MamaMaven said...

After working for two slighlty nutty women I now have a great boss--which just highlights how horrible they were as bosses eventhough they were bright and capable people.

Kate said...

That's awesome. I wish my boss was like that! Come to think of it, I can't say I've ever had one that I adored as much as your Sylvia. I need to go into business for myself and then I will really love my boss :)

Kimberly said...

A good boss is SO important. Very good summary - all managers should be required to read this.

Vodka Mom said...

I wish I liked my boss. damn.

Christine said...

More bosses need to read this post and learn from it. My boss recently told somebody on my team it was his "turn" to get an award. What a pep talk. Not exactly very motivating when you get an award just because it's your turn.