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Corporate Culture: What Makes a Great Boss?

Elizabeth Woodard

Elizabeth Woodard

corporate culture

corporate cultureEvery article you’ve ever read about bosses starts with this quote: “Employees don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses.”
It may be a little overused but it’s absolutely true. What kind of work an employee does is not nearly as important to corporate culture and overall job satisfaction as how their boss treats them.
Everybody wants to be a great boss, but if that desire was enough, articles like this wouldn’t be necessary. So… how do you find out if you’re a great boss? What specific, actionable things can you do to make yourself into a boss employees don’t want to quit?
I’ve got your back with a list of things you can start doing in the next three days to make yourself into a great boss employees will dream of working for.

Empower Employees to Make Their Own Decisions as Much as Possible

Tim Ferris wrote in his book, the Four-Hour Work Week about the first company he built, which is an interesting case study of this principle. Ferris built a business using overseas contractors as customer support and realized that he was losing hundreds of hours a month answering their inquiries as to how to handle different customer problems. He decided to send out an email telling his overseas employees that he was no longer their boss, the customer was. Any problem that cost less than $100.00 to fix the employees were to handle themselves and the company would adjust as they go.

How did this go?

Returns of his product dropped from over 10% to under 3%, he got back hundreds of hours in time, and lost absolutely no money in return. The takeaway from this and its possible impact on your corporate culture can best be summed up in his final thoughts on the experiment:

“It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.”

Trust your employees. You hired them for a reason. They know what they’re doing.

Keep Your Corporate Culture in Mind When Hiring New Employees

It is so tempting as a boss to just hire the first person who has the basic qualifications a so numbers balance but that’s not how management’s or HR’s changing role in recruiting employees should evolve. Hiring quickly to fill a seat isn’t just risking a bad fit, it’s also demoralizing to your current employees. After all, they will wonder, if you will hire just anyone how important or real can their jobs actually be? Hire carefully for a great fit and take that extra time. Everyone will benefit.

conferring over report

Coach and Provide Employee Feedback without Micromanaging

A positive corporate culture requires employees to feel important. This is a careful balancing act, but if you pull it off pays out big.

On one hand, if you ignore your employees they’ll think that you don’t care what they do day-to-day. On the other hand, if you micromanage them they’ll know you don’t trust them.

How do you split the difference?

Coach employees when asked and give direction on what big picture targets to aim for, but leave the methodology and exact tactics up to their discretion. Your job as a boss is to point employees in the right direction and their job is to figure out how to get there.

Conduct ‘Stay’ Interviews with Employees

I think I’ve discussed this in every corporate culture and employee-boss article I’ve written but this is such a valuable and underused business tool. Just about every company conducts ‘exit’ interviews when an employee leaves, but for a variety of reasons the employee has no reason to be honest with you. Why bother when they’re already leaving and a negative exit interview could harm their job reference? Set quarterly meetings with your employees and ask them the same questions you would if they had quit. When your employees see you making an effort to fix any issues before they resign, your corporate culture will improve and your employee retention rate will soar.

Be Willing to Admit Mistakes and Grow from Them

Of all the qualities that make a great boss, I think this is the most important one. As a boss you’re going to have to learn new strategies and techniques for managing people all the time, which is bound to result in a few mistakes.

When you realize that you were wrong and an employee was right, will you dig your heels in out of pride and insist on doing things the wrong way to save face? Or will you step back, understand where you went wrong, and move forward in a better way? Your answer to this question will tell you everything you need to know about the kind of boss you are.

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