Why I’ll Never Be An Amazing Boss

The November 27, 2015 issue of the Harvard Business Review has an article called What Amazing Bosses Do Differently., by Sidney Finkelstein. I don’t know Mr Finkelstein personally, or even impersonally, but I want to talk about his thoughts anyway.

Apparently, Amazing Bosses follow these five key behaviors. It becomes more and more obvious to me every day that I am a worker-bee and NEVER EVER EVER want to be a Boss. I couldn’t POSSIBLY do these things.

Manage individuals, not teams.

Amazing Bosses realize that each of their snowflakes IS a snowflake, and have to be handled differently. Oh brother. I can’t give any additional assignments to you on the Monday after “your” football team loses? Ummm – shut up and get to work – also, did you actually PLAY football yesterday? No? Then it wasn’t YOUR team that lost, was it! The entire company has core hours of 8-4, but you are afraid of traffic so you want to work from 11-7? Ummm – we work as a team and the rest of the team manages to be here, and besides, rumor has it you leave at 5:30 every day anyway. Be here on time or don’t be here at all.

Go big on meaning.

You can’t rely on incentives like bonuses, stock options, or raises. You’ve got to inspire them with a vision, set challenging goals and pump up their confidence so they believe they can actually win.

Umm… that’s ok. I’m REALLY happy with bonuses, stock options and raises. To me, those ARE a win. Shallow and materialistic, I know. If you are the kind of person who can be ‘incentivized’ by snappy slogans and cheers, maybe you ARE playing football, in which case I’m totally not the boss for you.

Focus on feedback. 

This part is about “the dreaded performance review” – yeah, buddy!  I really do dread this. Personally, I can’t stand bragging on myself, it feels like punishment that twice a year I have to spell out in painful detail that “I helped guide the XYZ project to see that their initial approach blah blah blah”, and “I spearheaded the switch from The Stupid Tool to The Less Stupid Tool, thus increasing our team’s productivity blah blah blah” – AUAUGHGHGHGHGH. And as a boss, I certainly wouldn’t want to have to read such drivel from my team. If you’re doing a good job, I should KNOW it, and if you’re not, then everybody probably already knows it.

Coming from a military background, I’m really in favor of the Time In Grade + Test Scores method of sorting people. After 3 years in one position, take a test covering the things you SHOULD be doing every day; partly written, partly oral. If you ACE it, you move up; if you fail or even do only average, you stay where you are and learn more; after you fail it 3 or 4 times, maybe it’s time for you to move DOWN or OUT.

Don’t just talk… listen. 

Apparently Awesome Bosses let their employees make suggestions and take initiative. Well, sure. I can go along with that. But not for the reasons of letting the employees “feel good” about being “a part of”.

For me, it just makes sense to let the people who DO the work have some input into HOW (maybe even whether) the work should be done. When you have dictatorial rulers at the top saying in January that “we” will complete XYZ project by April 30th without having any idea what is actually involved, which teams need to be engaged, and what those teams might already be signed up for between now and April, you are dooming your project and your company to breakdown and failure. The good people leave, those who can’t leave are over-worked and stressed-out…

<takes a deep breath and backs off from rant-mode>

…ok, enough about that.  I guess I just needed someone to listen 🙂

Be consistent. 

Yes, please.

———————

I’m lucky – I HAVE an Awesome Boss who does all those things and more. I am amazed at how he manages to remain so cheerful and upbeat working with a whiny crabby snowflake like me!

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3 thoughts on “Why I’ll Never Be An Amazing Boss

  1. hirundine608

    While I am retired now … not one of the people that were my supervisor when working. Called “Boss” here. Were in the remotest way even close to these …. ummm habits. Never came close, except for perhaps one and he moved on to a better position.

    So, what does that say about those who want to be in that position?

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  2. eschudel

    Yeah – it makes sense to me to – just trust people to DO their jobs. They are the experts, after all. I would add something to this list as well, although it’s probably not something most bosses want to practice. You need to open yourself up to (and, may I say, seek out) criticism and opposing points of view. Let’s face it – if you can’t have an honest conversation (and don’t seek out those honest conversations) about the pros and cons of doing something in a certain way (and if you just want people to tell you that your ideas are fantastic), you are a dictator, not a leader. Ok, rant related to a current workplace situation done!

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