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12 Traits of a Great Boss

Rachel Farrell, Special to CareerBuilder

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For many people, a cardinal sin is thinking they're perfect. Job seekers think they're not making any job-search mistakes. Employees "always" do the best they can. And bosses are always great.

Right.

Unfortunately, in real life, nobody's perfect -- not even you, Mr. Boss Man. In fact, many bosses assume they're doing a good job at managing their employees when the opposite is the reality.

"Such situations occur frequently, quite simply because the boss does not have accurate feedback," says Sandra Naiman, author of "The High Achiever's Secret Codebook: The Unwritten Rules for Success at Work." "Often employees don't tell him or her what they really think."

In reality, being a good boss isn't as easy as it sounds. Just because you're "the boss" doesn't mean that you can tell people what to do and they'll do it, Naiman reminds. And even if they do, that doesn't make you a good boss.

"The role is really one of supporting and motivating people to do a good job. This means you have to understand what motivates people, be constantly available to them, be a role model, and adjust your style to suit each individual direct report," she says.

So, do you want to know if you've got what it takes to be a great boss? Here are 12 things that make up a good boss, according to Naiman and Vicki Salemi, author of "Big Career in the Big City."

1. Ask employees how you can best support them in doing their job. "This ensures that you are doing your best job to help your employees do theirs," Naiman says.

2. Make sure that each employee has all the information, resources and support he or she needs to do their job. "It also demonstrates that you see yourself as [being] there to support them," Naiman adds.

3. Give continuous feedback, both positive and constructive. "This helps the employee develop [professionally] and avoids surprises during performance reviews," Naiman says.

4. Provide opportunities for professional growth. "This lets employees know that you are in their corner," Naiman says.

5. Don't let employees know of your own job concerns, challenges or problems in your personal life. "This prevents employees from feeling that they have to take care of their boss," Naiman says. "A good boss is perceived as competent and there to support his or her employees."

6. Create trust. "A good boss is a trusted boss. So, keep promises, follow through on commitments [and] never betray a confidence or talk about others in the organization, except in a favorable way," Naiman says.

7. Show compassion. "Treat employees like they're people. Not employees, but people. If one of your direct reports had a death in the family or even a bad day, be human and compassionate," Salemi says.

8. Listen. "One of the best traits of a boss is someone who not only goes to the wall for their employees but who also listens to them," Salemi says. "Sometimes team members just need to vent and get things off their chest. A good boss will listen."

9. Give frequent feedback. "Instead of waiting until an annual performance review to give feedback -- good or bad -- a sign of an excellent boss is pro-active behavior," Salemi says. "A fantastic boss will get the most out of his or her employees. Giving positive feedback and acknowledging a job well done often results in more good work."

10. Understand your employees' jobs. When you don't completely understand what your employees do or how they do it, it's more difficult to help them navigate their job if they need more resources, Salemi says. "Plus, a good boss should go to bat for his or her employees. If they don't understand the magnitude of their direct reports' job responsibilities this may be harder to do or convince the higher-ups of their worth."

11. Live and breathe by the company rules. If you show up late, take long lunches or are MIA during pockets throughout the day, people notice, Salemi reminds. "Rules aren't just for direct reports to abide by. A good boss will know that their behavior is to be emulated," she says. "If the rules don't apply to them, who should they apply to? A true leader takes this very seriously."

12. Acknowledge your employees' work. "Recognize their performance! Even as employees go through busy season or may be inundated with job sharing in this economy, a good manager will keep them motivated by putting wind in their sails and more importantly, keep turnover low," Salemi says. "If you have a good boss, you're golden, you won't want to leave. When you know your boss is 'on your side,' it makes a difference in your productivity, morale and overall workplace happiness."

Rachel Farrell researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.




Last Updated: 09/11/2010 - 12:54 PM


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