3 Things Every Boss Should Know & What To Do If Yours Doesn't

bossNext to your marriage, it's probably the most important relationship you have. If it's good, your life can be great. If it's bad, you face a daily nightmare.

I'm talking about your relationship with your boss. There has been a lot written about how you should relate to your boss, how you can please your boss, and even how you can kiss up to your boss. Not very much has been written about how your boss should relate to you. That is, until now.

Jill Geisler is a former TV news manager who now works at the Poynter Institute, a combination journalism school for working journalists and journalism think tank. Based on her own experience, talking to a lot of managers, and doing a lot of research and reading on management, she writes leadership and management columns for Poynter as part of her teaching.

"Last year I wrote a column I called "Ten Things Great Bosses Know," she told me. " It received a good amount of reaction -- sort of went viral. It led us to re-think our strategy. We decided to continue to write for all managers, under the 'Great Boss' banner."

And thus was born "What Great Bosses Know," a series of columns and podcasts that eventually will be turned into a book. The podcasts are offered on iTunesU, and judging by how popular they are, there are a lot of bosses out there who want to be better managers.

"ITunes sends us weekly metrics," Geisler told me. "Since the first of the year, when we started posting the podcasts in the Business section of iTunesU, we've had over a million downloads!"


Three things that will make bosses effective and inspirational

The original column had some solid advice for the people who oversee your work all day long. Here are a few of the pointers Geisler gave:


1. The most important thing bosses do is help OTHERS succeed.

This sounds simple, but keep in mind that bosses have been promoted because of their own personal achievements. Now, they have to shift the focus from themselves to the growth of those who report to them. In other words, it's not about YOU, boss: It's about the troops. If they do well, you should, too.


2. Managers cannot treat everyone the same.

Great bosses learn how to customize their approach to each person. Yes, they hold true to core values, but don't assume that they have to act in identical ways with each staffer. They manage people as the complex individuals they are. And that's a real skill. It's faster and easier to tell people what to do; but when people come up with their own ideas, they are much more invested in them. When we put our personal stamp on something, we care more about it. This applies in work assignments, negotiation and conflict resolution.


3. Staffers must see YOU, not your Evil Twin.

What's the difference between visionary and delusional; between a roll-up-my-sleeves helper and a micromanager; or between confidence and arrogance? It's often in the the way the leader communicates and the staff perceives her. Leaders can't assume their employees can read their minds. It's hard work to make your intentions clear.


How to handle a really bad boss

Some of the columns and podcasts also give great advice to people on how to handle truly horrible bosses (after all, even bosses have bosses). While Geisler gives lots of advice on how to cope with a bad boss, she also has some tips for helping to get the bad boss out of your life. Sooner or later, truly bad bosses face a day of reckoning. There are a variety of ways employees can expedite it:

  • Keeping meticulous records related to problems.
  • Employing skillful and careful guerilla tactics -- like doing exactly what bosses ask, even when the request is a mistake, so the error blows back on them.
  • Finding safe opportunities to expose the boss's wrongdoing to HR or upper management, especially the unethical, illegal or violations of company policy.
  • Getting an attorney or union representative to advocate on your behalf.
  • Providing detailed information in a company exit interview if you leave.

Working to eliminate a boss can be risky but righteous business.


Are bosses taking Geisler's advice to heart?

"Where I once heard from newsroom managers, I now get messages from all sorts of bosses, from doctors to line supervisors to IT managers to ministers," Geisler said. "Some just say thanks for the advice, others ask for a little coaching. Often, people mention how tough it is to be the kind of boss people really want to work for, especially if you haven't had training. Your 'trial and error' approach can hurt your staff and your own credibility."

So, you might do yourself some good by letting your boss know about this informative and helpful series that not only make them better bosses, but also make them look good to their bosses.

Check out a simple piece of advice Jill Geisler has for bosses to truly inspire their employees:




Next: Bad Bosses: Five Ways Your Boss Bugs You - And How to Respond >>

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