How to Become a Better Boss

Last Updated Oct 8, 2008 5:43 PM EDT

2493956518_696bacf35b_m.jpgAre you a good boss? Would you know if you weren't? You might be coasting along, thinking you're doing a great job, when all the time your employees are rolling their eyes behind your back or complaining to co-workers.

Being a good leader is crucial to productivity, morale, and even the company bottom line. So it's worth figuring out how you can improve your management skills. (Because, let's face it, we can always be doing something better.)

Where to start? First, get an honest assessment from someone you trust, such as a mentor or boss. Asking for 360-degree feedback can provide perspective from your employees, co-workers and managers.

Next, focus on the five key attributes that can make you a better manager: leadership, communication, fairness, kindness, a willingness to rise above the fray. Dinorah Blackman-Williams offers suggestions on how to improve in those areas:

  • When it comes to leadership, practice what you preach. Lead by example. If you expect excellence from your staff, be prepared to demonstrate it yourself. Hate tardiness? Don't you dare show up late to the meeting with latte in hand. Require accountability? Be the first to say the buck stops with you.
  • As a manager, talking is important, but listening is crucial. Develop a rapport with your staff so they feel comfortable expressing doubts and concerns. Don't interrupt. Make time for one-on-one meetings, both formal and informal. And try to practice diplomatic communication rather than employing an aggressive or confrontational style.
  • Don't play favorites. It's natural to have an affinity for some employees more than others, but don't ever show a preference and share the wealth when it comes to plum assignments and perks. Keep your opinions about their personalities and performances to yourself. And treat everyone well.
  • A little kindness goes a long way. Correct and criticize with respect, and preferably behind closed doors. Don't attack the person ("You obviously don't pay attention to detail, John"); instead, critique the work ("The formulas in this Excel spreadsheet don't appear to have been updated").
  • Be the bigger person with insults, snubs and office politics. Laugh it off and don't take things personally. A big reaction just adds fuel to a fire.
(image by TheMuuj via Flickr, CC 2.0)
  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.