Being a boss is difficult. Anyone who has ever had to manage other people know that acutely. There is a fine line between guiding and directing and being “bossy” or “pushy,” and those who are willing to cross it are often hated by their staff, while those who are not willing to be direct and/or demanding often play doormat to their staff. Establishing what kind of boss you want to be and building the right relationship with your staff very early on is important—people will perform well for someone they respect, whether or not they like him. Here are three of the biggest mistakes new bosses make:
- Treating your employees like a group, rather than as individuals. While some people are happy to just be another cog in the machine, most people require individual attention and praise in order to feel fulfilled and motivated to work. As a recent Boston Globe survey suggests, people will work harder for a boss who praises them individually than a boss who just dishes out impersonal raises. Most bosses make this mistake because it’s simply easier to group everyone under them together and to deal with them as a mass, but this is not an effective way to motivate your people. In order to treat your employees like an individual, consider one-on-one meetings with them regularly, and also consider reviewing their performance individually and privately. That will help with your individual relationship.
- Being too friendly. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being friend with your employees, or even with hiring your friends, if they’re the best candidate for the job. However, developing specific personal friendships can be a big mistake. These relationships then lack the professional distance that a boss needs in order to be able to discipline, correct, or even just advise his employees. The boss-employee relationship is inherently unequal, which makes building serious friendships dangerous for all involved.
- Not being willing to give specific feedback, both positive and negative. There is nothing more draining than working for someone who never tells you that you’ve done a good job. There is also nothing more stifling than a boss who is unwilling to give constructive criticism (not just criticism, but feedback that will improve how a person works or their work results). Many bosses make the mistake of believing that an individual just knows when they are doing a good or poor job. However, if there is praise to be dished out or actions that need to be corrected, a boss needs to address those situations specifically and promptly.
These are just 3 potential mistakes new bosses make. Do you have any extra insight? We would love to hear from you in the comments.