October 16 is Boss' Day, and it's controversial! Some say you should be grateful for bosses who are fair and compassionate. Others say the power imbalance is such that employees should not have to express gratitude to their supervisors, abusive or kind. Whatever your stance, you should strive to be a boss who is deserving of acclaim on Boss' Day, and every day.
It's not an easy goal to achieve. Being a boss is difficult, and requires the careful balance of the professional and personal interests of the company, the employee, and the boss - which can be in opposition to each other. How can you harmonize these competing concerns without making at least one suffer?
Here are tips on how to earn praise from your employees (which will get you praise from your superiors, too):
1. Give Them a Communication Break
Everyone needs a break sometimes. Whether your industry is strictly 9-5 or constantly 24/7, you need to make sure your people have an opportunity for life outside the office. Workaholics grind themselves to nothing, and soon start doing subpar work. Some offices institute emergency-only communication rules on nights and weekends, where no one from the office is supposed to send an email or make a call between certain hours. Even if that's not realistic for your office, at least make a point of doing this once a week, or every few weekends. Alternatively, you could have rotation of communication duties on nights and weekends, which would give everyone else a break. It's an easy way to show gratitude for hard work and keep your employees fresh.
2. Demonstrate Gratitude, Loudly
You don't necessarily have to give something to show gratitude to your employees. Sometimes a well-timed, public thank you is enough. Has someone recently gone out of their way to satisfy a client or help the team? Say so! At your next group huddle, take a moment to thank them for their diligent work. Make it sincere and personal, including information about the task they completed and the difference it made. It only takes a few seconds, but it's meaningful to that employee, and also inspires others.
Think about your performance as a boss. If you were one of your employees, what would you think about your leadership? Take a long look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. You've probably done some good things, but surely there are ways you can improve. Write them all down, and brainstorm on how you could do things - even things you're already good at - better. Do this every 6 months, considering what went right, and what you should have done differently. Strive for continuous improvement.
4. Solicit Honest Feedback
After you've reflected on your performance, ask others for their assessment. Ask your employees and your bosses for honest, critical, constructive feedback. You might be surprised to hear what they have to say. Listen carefully and patiently, and ask questions where you don't understand. Most importantly, don't take it personally or get defensive. Instead, acknowledge what they've said, ask for suggestions on how to improve - and then try to improve! Demonstrate how you want others to grow and develop by putting in the hard work yourself.