Have you ever heard your boss loudly discussing another employee to a colleague? Or getting away with behaviour you’d be dragged over coals for? Bosses are not exempt from the basic rules of common courtesy, but it may seem that way sometimes.
What would be top on your list of rules for bosses?
A recent study
by Abigail Phillips, PhD researcher in organisational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School, shows that, unsurprisingly, working for a toxic boss equals lower rates of job satisfaction, and can spill into an employee’s personal life too. The study of over 1,200 employees also showed that increasing levels of psychopathy and narcissism in bosses led to psychological distress and depression among employees.
Here’s five tips employees wish they could give to their boss on how to avoid being toxic.
1) Don’t skimp on the small talk
A boss should chat to his/her employees. It’s easy for the person in charge to hide behind a desk, in a private office and only appear for the occasional birthday speech. Being approachable is a great life skill, outside of the office too, but at work it can boost morale.
Passing your boss in the hallway, or joining them in the lift on the way up to the office, can be excruciatingly awkward. In this situation, a boss should take the reins. They should first, acknowledge the employee by their name. And second, try and think of something connected to them such as a project they’re working on, the sports team they follow, how their day is going, or if all else fails, the weather.
2) Think like an employee
A 2016 study
by DDI, a global human resources firm, shows the strong link between a boss’s empathy and job performance, and suggests successful leadership is defined by a single ingredient: it’s mastering successful conversations.
The study shows that overwhelmingly, empathy tops the list as the most critical driver of overall performance for a boss, with involving others coming in close behind. However, only 40% of the participants actually demonstrated effective empathy.
So, research suggests if your boss puts him/herself into your shoes, this is the making of a good work relationship.
3) Be a leader, not just a boss
A boss is in charge of a team/organisation and responsible for making crucial decisions.
But it’s not just about telling people what to do; it’s also about leading, influencing and inspiring others to showcase the best of their abilities. Not every boss is a leader, and not every leader is a boss.
Some key differences between a boss and a leader include, but are not limited to: bosses give orders, but leaders listen to their employees and make a decision based on discussions. Leaders motivate their employees, rather than intimidate. Leaders are confident, but not arrogant and acknowledge that their employees can teach them something new.
4) Don’t get rattled
Being in charge means bosses will have to take responsibility for the company and its reputation. In stressful situations, a boss should stay calm in front of their employees.
5) Have an open door policy
This doesn’t mean your boss should physically have their office door open during the work day, but they should encourage open communication, feedback and discussions with any employee, and make them feel like you can go to them at any time.
Of course, there will be busy times when an open door policy might not work quite as well, but a boss should specify times in this case, or make rounds to visit employees. It’s a show of availability and approachability, which develops employee trust.
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