Management today is challenging. Whether you are the supervisor of a handful of people or the CEO, balancing the goals of your company with the needs of your people.

You want to earn the respect of your people. After all they are your greatest resource. Do not make the mistake of thinking differently. Your staff is the difference between success and failure.

Below are some excellent suggestions on how to become everyone's best boss.

1. Be Honest

This is the most important criteria for being a well-liked boss. No one likes being lied to. Honesty does not always come easy in the business world. Proprietary information or upcoming budget cuts can make you want to fudge the truth a little.

If you cannot answer honestly, then answer honestly.

For example, Sally comes to you wanting a raise. She is a hard worker, and has been with your company for 10 years. Little does Sally know that her department is downsizing. You are not at liberty to disclose this information.

Don't lie and tell her "no one is getting a raise this year". Do not make promises you cannot keep. Commend her on her outstanding performance and loyalty, and ensure her that her compensation is under review. Gently let her know that a raise is not possible at this time, but you will fully consider her request. 

2. Listen

Do not tune people out. Many natural leaders are self-focused and tune out what other people are saying. They also have a tendency to jump ahead of what someone is saying.

Stop. Put down your pen. Hold all of your calls. Stop typing.

LISTEN to what the person in front of you is saying. Try to put yourself in their position and understand what they are trying to tell you. Respond with genuine questions or comments. They will respect the fact that you heard them.

3. Do Not Knee-jerk

There are very few things in business worse than a knee-jerk reaction to a situation. This is usually caused by lack of information, failure to listen to solutions provided by your staff, and minimal planning.

If your department or company has a pressing situation, your first step should always be to gather as much information as possible. Listen to all sides of the problem, and welcome input from valuable staff members.

Then, sleep on it. Yes, time is of the essence, but so is logic. Let a little time pass before making wild decisions. Your staff will recognize and respect your decision-making process, instead of flying off the handle and leading your team down the wrong path.

4. Reward and Recognize

This also is tricky given the sometimes snarky attitudes of the workplace. If done genuinely and sporadically, a recognition program will go a long way to improve your company morale.

Do not reward too often. Weekly and sometimes monthly rewards are excessive and lose their value and meaning. This is especially true in small companies where you run out of people.Recognize small acts that embody the spirit of your company. If you are customer oriented, then reward the employee who takes that extra care in customer satisfaction.

Strive for consistency, but do not be predictable. If you start a program, stick with it. Often, bosses start a program to motivate their staff, and three months later the project ends. Even worse is the recognition program that is a monthly repeat. Mix up your rewards, keep it special, and express the rewards in a heart-felt way.

5. Be Clear

Being clear is different from being honest. When communicating with your employees, use direct speech. Speak in easily understood words. Ask leading questions to make sure they are on the same page with your request.

When the request is complete to your satisfaction, tell them so. Do not be afraid to thank someone for doing their job. Yes, it is their job and that is what their paycheck is for, but a clear and direct "thank you" will win them over.

6. Humor Them

 Do your part to encourage appropriate humor in the workplace. (Of course, anything offensive or derogatory is never humorous.)

A lively atmosphere in your workplace, one that includes you, will increase productivity. As long as your work force is productive, allow monthly birthday celebrations. Morning talk around the coffee-pot while on the clock is ok. If you continually send down rules, they will not want to work for you.

7. Surprise Your Staff

Find a place in your budget for regular unexpected surprises from you.  Some suggestions are cheap Chinese take out on the boss, or movie tickets for the staff and their family.

Creativity is key. Have fun with it. It doesn't have to break the bank. If you do not have time to direct this personally, appoint someone responsible to oversee the project for you. This does not mean you can skip out on it. You still must have authority and input and a genuine interest in the fun.

8. Work Hard

People work harder for bosses that work harder. Always go the extra mile and your employees will follow in your footsteps.

Answer your phone. Respond to emails quickly. Leave your door open. Walk the floor. Lead meetings. Be the boss. Don't golf on the clock.

9. Be Flexible

Our world is hectic. Most families have two parents that work full-time jobs. Be understanding and flexible of your worker's needs.

There will be days when the kids are sick. Doctors appointments, school programs, and other demands will force your best workers to miss time.

Create a work environment that is flexible. Reassure your workers that you get it. Do not add to the guilt they already feel for having to miss work. Give them opportunity to make up the time missed in order to complete their work.Many bosses fear this, because this policy is often abused. Deal with the abusers individually, and do not punish the group.

People will want to work harder for a boss like you.

10. Be the Boss

You are not your employee's best friend. You aren't their psychologist, their financial advisor, or their drinking buddy.

Lead them, guide them, but always keep the separation clear. You are the coach, the boss, the leader of your business.

Keep your goals at the forefront. Act in the best interest of your company, and encourage that behavior in others. Grow your business. Attain your goals. Train your staff. Be honest, accessible and clear.

Published on: Feb 9, 2016
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.