How To Be A Highly Effective Boss

As a boss, perhaps a business owner running your own company, you realize that you are responsible for everything that happens, either directly or indirectly.

While you may have a clear idea of how to execute your work, how do you get employees to feel engaged and to share their best ideas with you to improve the company?

One simple strategy is to show your appreciation for the work that they do. However, this has to be done in a subtle way, otherwise it will appear disingenuous.

Here are 4 ideas on how to show more appreciation:

1. Employee Awards: By having a formal evening event where you distribute prizes and gifts for top performers, you will encourage the best people and motivate those who currently feel disengaged.

2. Recognition. Acknowledging someone’s performance long after the event is ineffective in improving performance. However, catching people doing something right and acknowledging their competence in the moment will encourage people to continue exerting their best efforts.

3. Training. One reason employees deliver poor quality work is because they don’t know any better. The way to overcome this problem is to upgrade their skills. By introducing in-house training programs or paying for employees to get outside certifications, you are improving how well work gets done. You are also improving employees’ self-esteem; they feel that they are growing and making a contribution.

4. Mentoring. While training programs are effective in improving the general level of employee performance, what about talented employees? People who have the potential to be much more effective at their work and, perhaps, even take on a future leadership role should be assigned mentors, senior people who can share their knowledge.

In order to understand why these four strategies are so effective in increasing engagement, let’s take a step back to understanding what it means to be a good boss.

Dropping the “Bad Boss” Persona

Managing people in a business isn’t easy, and one default strategy business owners have adopted throughout history is assuming the persona of a military commander.

Although this may appear to be a way of signaling alpha male or female status in the tribe, there is a little more to it. By staying strong, aloof, and silent, they avoid time-wasting conversations and getting enmeshed in employees’ requests, demands or complaints. In extreme cases, this persona manifests as a gruff, insensitive, and mean personality -- the stereotypical “bad boss.”

Most employees simply assume that this persona is the boss’s actual personality. Consequently, they are a little surprised when they meet them socially and find that they are actually warm, affable, and friendly people. In fact, they may even be more intelligent and articulate than their monosyllabic conversation-style in the office led everyone to believe.

King Arthur and Open Systems

An authentic boss is more like King Arthur than Julius Cesar.

An Arthurian roundtable arrangement may be much more useful than a hierarchy. It’s time to rethink how you manage people -- because by avoiding a personal connection with employees, you’re not only accidentally creating a disengaged work force but you’re also missing out on critical advice and insight from employees who are subject matter experts.

In other words, borrowing some terminology from cybernetics, you're creating an open system rather than closed system. An open system allows for interaction with the environment to allow for continuous adaptation, and one strategy it might used to do this is to express appreciation through various subtle means. By contrast, a closed system is based on an insular approach to management, a top-down, “do as I say” management-style, which will result in insufficient feedback loops to create a successful business.

About the author

Amanda Green is a site contributor that often writes on personal finance, marketing and business. In her free time she enjoys reading and playing volleyball with family and friends. Her work may also be found on


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