Thriving in the workplace does not entirely rely on skills and aptitude. A lot of it would have to do with your inter-personal skills. How successful are you at building and nurturing your relationships within the organization while being true and caring with your self?
In How to Manage Your Boss: The Bottom-Up Way to Thriving in the Workplace, you learned the tips on how you can win the support of your most important ally in the organization ethically, empathetically, and effectively.
This time, let us look at your role in reverse. How can you become the boss that employees would like to work for and more importantly, build their careers with?
Here are some rules of etiquette, based on the issues that employees usually raise about their immediate superiors:
Respect weekends, holidays, and rest periods. Unless you work in a public utility, the media, or whatever company or industry that requires 24/7 monitoring and crisis management, refrain from making calls or sending instant messages. Email is a good alternative for important but non-urgent matters that pop up from time to time.
Share the credit. We all know that you are a fantastic boss, but please acknowledge the fact that you would not have exceeded your targets if it were not for the collective efforts of the people you lead. Sharing the credit does not diminish your capabilities. In fact, it only shows how effective you are as a manager.
Be generous with praise. Give credit when and where it is due. Do not discourage your best team members by withholding acknowledgement of their hard work.
Give timely feedback. Do not let your staff work sit unattended for days after you have imposed steep deadlines and literally breathed down their necks to get this done. At the very least, acknowledge that you have received their work.
Do not be a gossip. This is a true horror story: I have seen and heard of bosses who openly rant about their direct reports to their colleagues over lunch and likewise, trade their staff’s juicy reasons for taking leaves over coffee break. One word: respect. I am sure that you do not want to be the subject in your staff or higher up’s own gossip sessions. So be a good example and keep issues within your unit or just between you and your team member.
Start and end meetings on time. As you expect your team members to show up on time, why cannot you do the same? If being late could not be avoided, designate a colleague or another team member to facilitate the discussion or give an early advice. Make sure that the new schedule neither interferes with your team’s other appointments nor extends beyond their official work hours.
Respect their workspace; no snoopervising. Nothing else can make any employee anxious than having their superiors linger in their workstations, watch their every move, and eavesdrop in their conversation.
Be direct and diplomatic. Nothing else can be more toxic than a workplace where passive-aggression is at play. As a boss, take your power and address your concerns with your team in a diplomatic manner, or privately with the concerned party. Avoid hinting.
Do not expect to be their lunch buddy. Friendships are good indicators of a healthy workplace. However, acknowledge the possibility that not all employees are comfortable with the idea of being friends with their bosses. Sometimes, lunches are the only times that they can breathe and recharge during an eight-hour day where they are under your watch. Occasional business or mentoring lunches are largely acceptable though.
Avoid scandals. Let us face it, we have seen the best intentions turn for the worst when the boss-employee boundary has been breached and there is too much familiarity between the two. Sometimes, one party breaks the confidence placed by the other in instances of falling out. In other instances, there are sexual harassment cases filed, marriages broken, and rumors spread like wildfire after drinking parties where boss and reportee are spotted alone in a car, parked or not.
The rule of the thumb is always respect. Learn to respect the personal lives and commitments of your employees, knowing that they are neither your properties nor are you their sole life priority. Once you give them space to tend to their personal lives and nurture their passions and other relationships, you will be satisfied to see an employee who is more than happy to go the extra mile for your team.
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