Being a good boss isn't easy. On top of your own workload, you're responsible for motivating, directing, and rewarding a subset of employees who all have unique approaches, unique mentalities, and unique needs. For most, becoming a great boss can't be reduced to a handful of simple lessons; instead, it is an ongoing process of refinement that can only come about as a direct result of experience. Still, there are some habits you can adopt in the short-term to improve your capabilities as a supervisor and leader:
1. Encourage Open Communication. At all levels, both between you and your employees and between your employees themselves, take effort to establish and preserve and open channel of communication. Don't restrict your employees' conversations or make any subject taboo. Instead, show appreciation when your employees actively talk with one another, and show appreciation when they come to you. Keeping an environment where your employees can freely communicate is the first step to establishing a highly productive and appreciative work environment; your workers will respect you for allowing them to speak their minds, and you'll prevent potential disasters or halts to productivity by encouraging people to proactively bring up their problems.
2. Listen to Your Employees. Once you've established an open line of communication between you and your employees, you'll have to get in the habit of actively listening to them. That doesn't mean just being available to listen to your workers vent or talk about their new ideas; it also means critically thinking about what they're bringing up, and forming a plan to take action. Showing that you listen to your workers, and that you're willing to take action to address their concerns, shows that you truly value your workforce and will be met with appreciation and respect.
3. Look for Your Employees' Strengths. When you're trying to manage the day-to-day execution of tasks, it's easy for your attention to fall on processes or actions. Instead, make it a habit to put your attention on individuals' abilities and strengths. Identifying those strengths is a key to helping your team function most effectively; for example, if you find that one of your workers is in a position where his/her strength is going to waste, you can reallocate your team assets and play to their individual strengths. Furthermore, you can institute new ways to improve those strengths even further, including offering training or education opportunities to your most promising internal candidates.
4. Reward Your Employees for Jobs Well Done. It's easy to fall out of this habit, so don't let yourself do it. Reward your employees whenever they've gone above and beyond the call of duty, or whenever they've shown exceptional results. Monetary rewards, such as raises and bonuses, are always options for this, but it can be just as effective to reward your employees in a more cost-effective way. Acknowledging someone's hard work with a compliment or a free lunch can mean just as much as a more objective reward. The key is to make sure your employees know that their work is both noticed and appreciated. It will cultivate an atmosphere of satisfaction and motivation.
5. Get on the Floor. As a boss, it's always a bad idea to isolate yourself. Trying to build authority by separating yourself from the pack will only result in resentment and difficulty in maintaining open communication. Instead, get in the habit of working with your employees on a ground level, personally interacting with your staff and making rounds to get involved with the day-to-day operations of your company. This will help to solidify the idea that you are all working together as part of the same team, even though you are the boss, and it will encourage more teamwork and make you more approachable as a leader.
6. Stay Positive. Positivity is a key habit for any boss, and maintaining an optimistic company culture is the end goal. Positivity is a contagious state of mind, meaning whenever you exhibit your positive attitude, your employees will be more likely to adopt that same positive attitude. Staying positive, even in the face of harsh challenges, allows employees to remain confident and work productively toward an ultimate accomplishment. Feed into your employees' optimism and nourish that positive company culture by transforming negativity whenever you see it. Once your entire workforce is in the habit, you'll have a much easier time maintaining it.
7. Work Hard. This should go without saying, but you're going to have to work hard as a boss. Your employees are going to look up to you as a mentor and as an example, and if you work hard, your employees will want to work hard as well. Don't hide your efforts; make yourself transparent and openly disclose all the projects and goals you are working on. If you're working to improve conditions and productivity in your own workforce, that disclosure can have a secondary effect of letting your employees know you're working on their behalf.
These seven habits can improve your disposition as a leader and increase the amount of respect your employees have for you. Furthermore, it can enhance the productivity of your workforce and lead to benefits all around. You might find some of these strategies more helpful than others; only through experience will you be able to hash out which ones work for your style of leadership and which ones don't.