Skip to Main Content Back to Top
Home Blog How to be a great boss

How to be a great boss

Boss talking with employee
Higginbotham H logo

If your workers are quitting, you might point to a lot of potential reasons. They’re unwilling to work. They want more pay than you can provide. They just don’t have the focus and dedication needed to cut it. But have you ever wondered if there might be another reason behind their decision to resign?

Have you ever wondered if the problem might be you?

You’ve probably heard some variation of this expression before: people quit bad bosses, not bad jobs. It’s probably not true in every single case. Some jobs are bad, or at least a bad fit for the worker in question, and sometimes people really are just looking for greener pastures, even if there’s nothing really wrong with their old job. But in many cases, the expression is true. People quit to get away from toxic managers.

According to Fortune, a Gallup study found that 50 percent of adults surveyed had quit a job to get away from a manager. If your workers keep quitting, stop to think about what you could be doing to drive them away. Even if you don’t have a significant turnover problem, a little self-reflection can help you become even better.

Here are eight ways to be a great boss:

Be a Good Role Model

If you come in late, leave early, take personal calls and miss deadlines, you can hardly act surprised when your employees think it’s OK for them to do the same. At the same time, if you demand that your employees arrive on time every day, but you never do yourself, your workers might start to resent the hypocrisy.

Model the type of work ethic you want to see in your employees. This goes for attitude, too. No one wants to work in a hostile environment, and if you’re constantly yelling at or insulting your employees, you’re creating one. Foster a supportive, positive environment from the top down.

Resist the Urge to Micromanage

You hired your employees because you thought they would be good at their jobs, right? So it follows that you should let them do their jobs.

A study from researchers at Southern Illinois University found that bosses who micromanage suffer from burn out, kill morale by showing they don’t trust workers and contribute to team underperformance. Another study found that more than two-thirds of people surveyed said they had considered quitting because they were being micromanaged.

You might like to do things in a particular way, but your employees aren’t you, and different methods might work better for them. Give them enough room to show you what they’re capable of.

Foster Good Communication

All relationships boil down to communication, and this includes the employer-employee relationship. Invite your employees to make suggestions and elicit their opinions. You might not be able to do everything employees want, but you should make it clear that you’re actually giving their suggestions consideration.

Also, keep in mind that communication goes both ways. You want your employees to come to you when they have an idea or problem. They also need to trust that you’ll keep them apprised of important information. No one likes to feel like they’re being kept in the dark, and workers who are well-informed tend to be more engaged. In fact, according to HR Dive, a study found that 92 percent of workers said they would work harder if they knew what their company’s goals were.

Help Your Employees Succeed

According to CNBC, nine in 10 workers with a mentor said they are happy with their jobs, while more than four in 10 without a mentor had considered quitting in the previous three months.

If you want your workers to thrive, you need to help them succeed. This can be done through mentorships, as well as training programs and internal promotions. Feedback is also key, and it should be constructive. If your employees are struggling, try to help them improve. Your employees shouldn’t have to try to guess how they’re doing or what you expect from them. You should be making this clear.

Group of employees at meeting

Acknowledge the Accomplishments of Your Employees

There’s a common stereotype of bad bosses who always steal credit for the great ideas and hard work of their employees. For employees, this type of situation is infuriating. Your employees deserve to be recognized for their hard work. When they accomplish a goal or put in extra effort, make sure you recognize them. A sincere thank-you can go a long way.

But don’t forget about monetary recognition. Praise is great, but employees need to earn a living. If they know that their hard work is making the company money, they’re going to want a piece of that pie. Bonuses, raises and promotions can be great ways of showing workers that you appreciate them.

Recognize That Your Employees Have Lives

A Joblist survey found that slightly more than 30 percent of workers would sacrifice some income for a better work-life balance.

You might want your workers to be committed to their jobs, but the reality is that they have other commitments, too. Many people work so that they can support their family. They’re going to want to be able to see that family from time to time. You might need workers to put in extra hours during crunch time, but you can’t expect workers to be in crunch-time mode permanently.

Benefits that help workers achieve a work-life balance can help. These benefits might include flexible scheduling or the option to work remotely at least occasionally. Childcare benefits and mental health benefits can also help workers find balance in their lives. Aside from benefits, you can also show that you care about your workers as people by treating them like people. Celebrate their birthdays. Learn the names of their spouses and children and ask about them occasionally.

But Don’t Be a Pushover

When trying to be the nice boss, it’s possible to go too far. If you let your employees get away with bad work habits, you’ll foster a negative work environment. You’ll also annoy the good workers who get sick and tired of their coworkers getting away with bad behavior and sloppy work ethics.

This is especially true if you’re only a pushover when certain employees are involved. You might have your favorites, but if you’re too obvious about this favoritism, your other workers might grow resentful. You could also open yourself up to claims of discrimination.

Take Safety Seriously

Between the threat of workplace violence and the pandemic, many workers are worried about their safety. If you don’t take safety seriously, your employees may quit – but that’s not the worst thing that could happen. If a worker is hurt, you could face an expensive claim. Taking safety seriously is a smart business move. It’s also a way to show your employees that you care about them.

A Proactive HR Partner Can Help

When work gets busy, some of the niceties of being a great boss can slip through the cracks. It happens to the best of us. An HR partner can put systems in place to cultivate a strong culture and a positive work environment. The best part is that you don’t have to do it all in house. Higginbotham offers individualized HR Services to support the unique needs of your team.

Learn more.

Not sure where to start? Talk to someone who wants to listen.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

Let’s Talk

Request a Quote

Woman looking sideways to window in design office
Higginbotham H logo