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How to be a great boss? 10 qualities that make you a great boss

February 5, 2019

Not everyone knows how to be a great boss. But most can tell you a story about enduring one.


I’ve heard horror stories of bosses berating employees in front of other people, screaming at workers or throwing temper tantrums. This kind of behavior affects productivity (at least when the boss isn’t looking) and plays havoc on employee morale.

When there is low morale, employees disengage – which contributes to undue stress. Employees who are forced to deal with a bad boss view the culture as “we” versus “them”.

Not only do these hostile environments lower worker productivity, they are also very difficult to manage.

We spend a third of our lives with our employees and co-workers so why not try to create an environment that encourages fun and supports productivity.

Not everyone knows how to be the great boss. But successful managers have figured it out what it takes to encourage and motivate employees. So what makes a great boss?

10 Qualities of a Great Boss

1. Communicates Clear Vision

Employees go to work and want to do a good job and make a difference. Bosses who communicate a clear vision for the organization help to engage employees by making them understand why they do what they do. This gets employees involved and interested in helping the organization achieve its objectives.

2. Connects Vision to Daily Tasks

A Great boss demonstrates how employee tasks support vision implementation by showing a clear line connection between what the employee does on a day-to-day basis and how it supports the organizational vision. This is done by writing smart goals that support organizational goals that are ultimately tied to business strategy.

Related articles – Jorge from Bridgefy gives tips to get all your team members on the same page for your startup

3. Sets Clear Performance Expectations

Research suggests that employees experience increased stress levels when they don’t have a good understanding of what is expected of them. Setting clear performance expectations includes having a very specific job description that lays out all expected tasks as well as employee goals. This should be discussed and clarified as part of a one-on-one conversation with an employee’s immediate supervisor. In addition, it is the manager’s responsibility to update and communicate expectations as priorities change.

4. Provides Consistent Feedback and Coaching

Employees need constant feedback for how well they are meeting expectations. This includes helping them understand when they are doing a good job and understanding when they are not meeting requirements.

Much of this has to do with coaching employees along the way. Very often employees do not even realize when they are not meeting requirements and it is the manager’s responsibility to coach and develop them.

For example, if a manager hears an employees being rude to a customer on the phone, they need to call them out on it and coach them on a better way to communicate with customers. If this doesn’t happen, the customer experience is affected and the employee may not even be aware that their mannerism is inappropriate. The boss has the responsibility of telling them when they are not adhering to customer service standards.

5. Cares About the Employee as a Person

Employees want to feel like they are cared about on a personal level. A great boss will take the time to ask about an employee’s personal life.

Employees feel valued when the boss shows an interest in a worker’s hobbies, family or other interest.

If you want to see an employee light up, just ask them about their kids!

6. Shares Personal Information

Bosses who share personal experiences demonstrate their vulnerabilities and helps employees appreciate the human side of the manager.

When a supervisor shares real life struggles and how they process the issues of life, it not only humanizes their relationship but can also serve as a life mentor for employees.

For example, if a boss shares a conflict they have with a neighbor, and how they resolved the conflict, it provides an additional coaching opportunity as well as giving an employee a lens into the personal life of the boss.

7. Makes Work Fun

I had a boss tell me once that “if you’re not having fun at work, you’re in the wrong job..” At the time I didn’t really understand what he meant but it makes so much sense to me now.

Whether you are working a line in a factory, greeting guests at the reception area or flipping hamburgers, every work environment has the opportunity to be a fun and productive place to work. Incorporating fun activities, events and organized play-time for employees gives them something to look forward to.

Things as simple as blue jean Friday or a lunchtime Wii challenge can be not only be fun but also a great team-building exercise.

8. Fosters Team Development

A great boss has good team leader skills that foster team development.

Diverse personalities and varying frames-of-references can make team interactions difficult but a great boss knows how to gather the troops and get them all headed, in unity, in the same direction.

9. Values Employee Perspectives

Employees do the work of the organization and great bosses care about what employees think and proactively solicits employee feedback.

They understand that employees often have the answers to many of the operational problems. And when asked, feel valued for being able to contribute their thoughts and opinions.

10. Rewards Good Performance

Employees go to work with the intention of doing a good job and should be rewarded for meeting and exceeding job requirements. (cf reward examples : look at those 25 creative rewards)

When employees have a good understanding of what is expected of them, given the tools and training to do their job and are rewarded for doing a good job they become engaged with the organization and committed to helping it achieve its objectives.

Employees go to work and want to do a good job but it is the boss that sometimes gets in the way of them performing well.

Bosses create an environment that employees are proud of and enjoy working in when they:

  • communicate where the organization is going.
  • explain how what the employee does contribute to what they are trying to accomplish
  • allow employees to participate in organizational problem solving efforts.

And you, in which ways do you think to be a good boss?


Brett Michielin of Ideasvoice SA