Bad Bosses v. Good Bosses * What's the Difference?

Continuing the theme of bad bosses, David Silverman recently posted on the Harvard Business blog a hilarious but frightening list of 11 habits of a bad boss he had the (dis)pleasure to work for. Three that stuck out for me include:

1) “Be sure your employees don’t know what’s important to you.”
As the old maxim goes, “if everything is important, then nothing is.” This is certainly how employees will react over time. If you want to demotivate your teams in record time, follow this advice. If you want to actually increase productivity, clearly define company, division, team and personal mission and goals for each employee to help them know when they have achieved personal goals as well as how they are helping to contribute to the company achieving its overall mission. Then recognize them at each stage for their efforts and their success.

2) “Be careful not to get too wrapped up in your employee’s own goals.”

Employees need to know their managers care about their success as much as, if not more, than their own. The best way to demonstrate this caring meaningfully to the employee is to acknowledge every achievement that brings them closer to that goal.

3) “Thank your employees – but only for efforts below their skill level.”

Too much of a good thing accomplishes nothing. While Globoforce strongly advocates eliminating elitist recognition programs in favor of recognition that targets 80-90% of employees, the behaviors and achievements deserving of recognition must always continue to be at a high standard. By recognizing more people for high levels of achievement, you begin to foster a culture of appreciation while also advancing the company’s values and mission.

What are some of the hallmarks of bad bosses you’ve worked under? What about the good ones? What sets the two apart in your mind?

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