Are you a good boss or a bad boss? That question reminds me of the scene from the Wizard of Oz when Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, first encounters Dorothy in Munchkinland. Glinda asks Dorothy “Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?” Dorothy replies that she’s not a witch at all, and besides, witches are old and ugly. After being informed that the beautiful, young Glinda is a witch, Dorothy says “You are! I beg your pardon! But I’ve never heard of a beautiful witch before.” Glinda responds, “Only bad witches are ugly.”
How do you know if you’re a good boss or a bad boss? A few years ago, Google’s People Operations group unveiled the results of a two-year study into what separates bad bosses from good bosses in their own company. They performed extensive data analysis on performance reviews, feedback surveys, and nominations for top-manager awards. They came up with eight behaviors that distinguished the best bosses at Google. How do you stack up against this list?
1. Be a good coach
- Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.
- Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths
2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
- Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.
3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
- Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.
- Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition.
4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
- Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
- Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.
5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
- Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
- Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
- Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.
6. Help your employees with career development
- Be a mentor and advocate for career growth.
- Help people develop their skills so they are better positioned for new opportunities.
7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
- Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy
- Include the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.
8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
- Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
- Understand the specific challenges of the work.
Kind of a no-brainer list, huh? It reinforces the idea that leaders can make tremendous strides by simply following the basics: Be interested in your folks, help them achieve their goals, provide the resources and support they need and get out of their way, communicate and share information, and have a vision for where the team needs to go.
Hopefully you’re a good boss and these behaviors are already part of your repertoire. If they aren’t, don’t worry. They’re all things that are very much under your control and you can incorporate them into your leadership practices. After all, you don’t want to be a bad boss. Bad bosses are ugly.