Business management is plagued with stereotypes. Managers are portrayed or seen as incompetent, aloof, or out of touch with the office. Just look at Lumbergh from Office Space, or the Pointy-Haired Boss in Dilbert. Now, for the most part, these are just caricatures of the worst traits in managers and bosses, but there is a little bit of truth in the exaggeration. So, if you want to be a good boss, try and avoid the manager-isms that define these stereotypes.
1. Playing Hide and Seek
The image of the absentee boss is well known. Executives that go out golfing, managers that duck out of the office early—there’s no quicker way to alienate your 9-5 staff than by making yourself scarce, or running into your office and hiding. I make a real effort to actually talk to everyone in my office, and I feel it helps me feel how the office is running. Plus it’s just good for morale when everyone is obviously willing to put in a full day.
2. Using Execu-Speak
Is your office synergized? Do you think laterally? Can your marketing leverage the social power of Web 2.0? Execu-speak like that borders on nonsense, and really should be avoided at all costs. Usually this lexicon is lifted straight out of business books; adopted right along with the principles and ideas actually outlined by the author. No one normally uses a word like synergy, and yet every so often I hear a CEO or manager un-ironically slip it into conversation. Try to avoid the jargon—your office will thank you.
3. Being Nosy
When I was younger, I had managers and bosses that loved to pry into my social life. What I did on the weekends, if I had any plans, where I was going for lunch—it was a constant barrage of questions. And don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind making small talk, but sometimes it feels as though people in management roles don’t know how to communicate with the rest of the office. So instead of simply talking, they ask question after question after question. The last thing you want is your staff to feel like they have to go through an interview every time they run into in the kitchen.
4. Constantly Asking for Favors
The lines separating the office and the outside world have become very blurry. The advent of smartphones has meant that everyone is a text or email away. And while this has been great for productivity, some managers and executives abuse this power by asking for personal favors. They’ll text the intern to pick up their dry-cleaning, or email their shopping list to their secretary. The occasional favor or coffee run is fine, but don’t abuse your position by asking your employees to run personal errands.
This is something that I’ve actually struggled with myself—I like feeling in control of everything. But if I’m not careful, I can find myself micro-managing and meddling in everyone’s work. When you first start your business, you do have to wear a lot of hats. At some point you were probably your own secretary, accountant, and the business’s entire sales department. But part of being a good boss is learning how to delegate and trusting your staff. After you start to hire people, take a step back and give them the chance to impress you.
Bosses get a bad rap—for the most part, we all know what our jobs are, and how to actually talk to our staff. But everyone has a story about a terrible boss, so it’s up to us to make an effort to avoid embodying the stereotypes that plague management. Avoid using made up words that pock business books, make yourself available, and give your staff a little room to breathe. You’re likely already an awesome boss—you just have to stay out of your own way!
This article was originally posted on SmallBizClub.com.