Be honest with yourself: Do you make your employees happy?
We aren’t talking about bringing in doughnuts from time to time or cracking a joke here and there.
The best women leaders skip the superficial stuff because they create an environment where the work experience is satisfying and energy is positive.
Success for employees, too
“Super bosses have mastered something most bosses miss – a path to extraordinary success founded on making other people successful,” says Sydney Finkelstein, researcher and author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent.
Here’s what top-tier leaders do differently – and how you can incorporate their behaviors into your management practices:
Manage the person, not the team
The best bosses recognize that employees are unique with varying interests, abilities, goals and learning styles.
Great bosses strive to understand each person and manage him or her based on his or her individuality.
Tip: Don’t just be available for one-on-one conversations. Schedule them. Also, roll up your sleeves and work with employees when they need help. There’s hardly a better way to get to know them individually than working side-by-side.
Emphasize the mission and its meaning
Many women in leadership end up spending a lot of time delegating work, overseeing tasks and keeping assignments in order.
The best bosses focus less on the housekeeping and more on what the work means – to the company, customers and employees’ careers.
Employees value jobs that let them contribute to the greater good. The best leaders foster those feelings.
Tip: Inspire them by regularly reminding them of their purpose. Review your company, department or even project mission and their specific role in achieving the mission. Pump up their confidence until they know they can meet and possibly exceed their goals. Then show them how the success played into the mission.
Give more feedback
Super bosses are relentless with feedback.
While many bosses limit feedback to the annual performance review, the great leaders have one-on-one conversations at least weekly (yes, once a week!)
Tip: The weekly talks need to involve clear, honest and constructive feedback that promotes independence and initiative. Use a little time to learn and understand employees to improve your ability to manage them. The conversations don’t have to be long, but they should touch on professional accomplishments and milestones, obstacles, needed resources and setbacks.
Get more feedback
Great bosses believe that getting employee insight is as important as giving them feedback.
Employees are happiest when they can offer ideas and take initiative – and know their boss is willing and eager to let them.
Tip: Pose problems and challenges that are appropriate for employees to know, and ask questions that prompt them to generate solutions. You might try: “If there were no resource limits, how would you fix this?” Or “How have you handled similar situations to … ?” Listen to their ideas and use what you can. You’ll want to explain what can’t be used and why.
Successful bosses remain consistent in their management style.
That doesn’t mean that their attitude never swings a little or their approach doesn’t evolve.
It does mean that they stay true to the vision, expectations and even-keeled behaviors they have established.
Tip: Be consistent in how you manage people and processes. When a change is necessary in how you manage them, acknowledge what you need to do and why quickly. Then move forward just the way you told them you would.
Nearly every woman in leadership can be a super boss. The key is building an environment where employees feel confident in your leadership and their abilities.