Connecting with Your People: The Key to Being a Good Boss

Written on Friday, October 7th, 2011 at 1:38 am by Adaire
Filed under Sharing Success.

The secret to a project’s business’ success lies in how the bosses treat the people who work for them. Great bosses do not treat their people like mere cash cows that they can keep milking for output throughout an entire work day – they see them as human beings who need to be cared for. These bosses know that in order to keep their people happy and productive, they need to care about their people’s work environment, career growth, and office relationships.

Though I won’t toot my own horn and say that I’m a great boss, I do try to be one in all of my business ventures. :) One of the main things I do is to make sure that I provide the right setup for my people to work in, do what I can to foster productivity and boost my people’s morale.

Like Suzanne Weinstein, the founder and CEO of In Sync Consulting Corporation, I believe that making an emotional connection with your people is one of the keys to being a great boss. In her Small Business CEO Magazine interview entitled Become a Great Leader With These Simple Keys, Suzanne says:

“If we can tap into a team, staff, or group of people emotionally, that’s going to drive them into motion, whether it’s a forward motion or a backward motion. If it’s a toxic environment, they’re going to get stifled. If it’s an empowering environment, they’re going to propel forward.”

I think she hit the nail on the head right there. :) As far as dealing with the people who work for me goes, I find that really tuning into how they’re feeling and what they think – and then adapting to their needs when necessary – is one of the keys to keeping your business running smoothly.

As Suzanne points out in the rest of her interview, connecting with your team members on an emotional level doesn’t meant that you have to be best friends with everyone, but you need to be prepared to do things to connect with them and be aware of their overall status.

In an article on Healthy Wealthy nWise called Eight Ways to Engage Employees and Power-Up Performance During Recession, Roxanne Emmerich lists down a bunch of things you can do to connect with the people who work for you during recession. With a bit of my own experience and the things Roxanne mentioned in her article, I’ve come up with a list of things you can do to develop a good working relationship with your people. :)

Have clear expectations
Your people need to know what you want done, how you want it done, and when you want it done. According to Roxanne, providing your people vague instructions and expectations makes them feel “irritated, unsafe, and even paranoid”. That’s why I personally make it a point to communicate with my people as much as possible in order to make sure that we’re all on the same page when it comes to tasks and projects. :)

Remember the importance of communication and follow through
This is pretty much related to having clear expectations. If your people fail to live up to your expectations, then it’s your responsibility to talk to them about it. Were the instructions unclear? Do they need outside assistance? Is there anything in particular that they find to be difficult? I’m not saying that you should spoonfeed them, but you need to guide them through it and make sure that your instructions have been laid out clearly for them. :) As Jill Bromund says in another Healthy Wealthy nWise article called Let Her Do Her Job!: “…you as the executive should follow through by helping the person to overcome his own barriers. Don’t solve [the problem] for him, but help him talk through how he could solve it. In this way, you are teaching him to independently solve problems.”

Hand out compliments to people who deserve it
While it’s important to point out any flaws in one of your people’s work, it’s equally important to compliment them for a job well done, too. Not only does this encourage them to keep up the good work, but it also makes them feel appreciated and respected.

While Roxanne mentions that positive feedback should outnumber the negative feedback “by about 5 to 1”, this doesn’t mean you should be tossing compliments out to random people just to make them happy! Remember that as a boss, compliments are an important tool that you need to use carefully, and that giving out compliments to people who don’t even deserve it will only reinforce their poor performance and prevent them from growing as employees.

Learn to compartmentalize
Part of being a professional is being able to compartmentalize your life. What happens at home should remain at home, and shouldn’t be brought along to the office. If something happened at home that made you lose your temper or made you upset, you have to calm down before stepping into your office. Having a problem bearing down your shoulders at work can lead to all sorts of negative repercussions, such as lack of patience with your people, distraction, and a decrease in motivation and productivity. Everyone has problems they need to deal with, so set a good example for your employees by showing them the importance of keeping your domestic problems out of the workplace. :)

Nobody likes it when the person they’re talking to isn’t even paying attention to what they’re saying, and the same holds true for the people who work for you. If you don’t care enough to listen to their issues and their suggestions, then you’ll wind up with a very unhappy bunch of people who think you’re a bit of a jerk. The simple act of listening – really listening – to what your people have to say gives them a sense of importance, and Roxanne says that this “has a greater impact on loyalty and customer service than all other factors COMBINED”.

These five pieces of advice are what I have to offer to other bosses out there who want to learn how to connect with their people. These tips are pretty straightforward and intuitive, especially if you’re already aware of the importance of having a good relationship with the people who work for you. :) Just like Suzanne says: “Employees really connect with leaders who are passionate, not leaders who are just telling them what to do but leaders who can show them emotionally why they’re doing what they’re doing.” If you talk to your people, listen to them, and maintain a positive working environment, then you’ll be well on your way to building a successful business. :)

- Adaire

Image by: Ambro /

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