“Nice” genes, boss!


In the current marketplace in Canada, there is a growing sense of change and uncertainty.  Therefore, as the owner or manager of a practice, more skill is required than ever before to maintain an even keel and efficient course to optimum productivity from your team players.  You must give them a sense of security while pushing them to achieve greater heights.

Are you too nice as a boss?

A question I commonly ask practice owners when analyzing their practice is, “Are you too nice in managing your staff?”  The answer is almost invariably and resoundingly “yes” with a quick, embarrassed laugh.  The long and short of it is that they don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or make them feel bad.

It seems like niceness is in most of our genes and good people always have a strong love for others and hesitate to take actions that upset others.  When it is your own staff who you are responsible for, many of you tend to back off from handling situations and thus feel you are being “too nice.”

Should you be a tough boss?

This depends on your definition of “tough.”  We tend to interpret toughness in a boss as similar to being mean or too demanding.  Also, a leader who is unpredictable or arbitrary and constantly exhorting everyone to work harder is not going to be followed either, except in fear of losing employment.

So what can you do about it if you answered “yes” to my question above?  Is there a middle ground between “too nice” and “too mean?”  There is!  Good leadership skills.

7 Good leadership skills anyone can learn:

1.  Be caring and interested in each member of your team. 

I put this one first because you don’t want to ever lose sight of that ability.  Your staff can sense whether you actually care about them or not.  They are there to help you achieve the goals of your practice.  Treating them like cogs in a wheel will not elicit top performance from them.  Anyone will shine more brightly and work harder if properly cared about.

2.  Have a strong business plan and make it known. 

There is a famous saying:  “You can’t get there if you don’t know where there is.”  Your team has chosen to work for you, but they need to know where the practice is headed and what you expect of them in the actualizing of those goals.  Clear direction and a passion for your service can galvanize the team into high levels of productivity.

3.  Project positivity.

Remember the game “Follow the Leader?”  In the workplace, good employees look to the leader to set the pace of how work is going to be done. If you exude positiveness when giving direction or asking for production, the staff will feel a confidence and control factor that they in turn will project into their work.  Further, acknowledge good production and efforts.  Be positive about advances the practice is making.  Do not dwell on negative aspects with your team.

4.  Be predictable and stable.

A very good plan is to have written policies for the practice and follow them.  By having systems and structure put in writing where all can read and follow them, you can skip a lot of negative emotion from staff members who are feeling tossed around by arbitrary decisions that vary all the time.  There is no secure feeling in such an environment.  Security can be improved by knowing what the policy is about lateness, sickness, holidays, hours, what to do when you notice something wrong, the correct reporting hierarchy, and job requirements and expectations, and so on.

5.  Issue clear and concise orders.

As a boss, it is super important to be very clear and concise and firm in the directions you are giving your staff.  Tossing off an order to “finish that project quickly” does not lead to immediate compliance in many cases.  Instead, give the team member an order such as “I need that report on my desk by 5 p.m. today so that I can read it over tonight and be prepared for my presentation tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.  If you have any questions, please ask me.”  This is very precise and gives the staff a timeline and a reason for it that they can then think with and comply to.

6.  Stay confident and composed in crisis moments. 

So easy to say, but it sure takes work to accomplish this one!  Just remember that your staff is looking to you for how to react and proceed in a crisis or demanding situation and use that to force yourself to exhibit composure and confidence.  When faced with an urgent decision or proper response to a sudden adversity, instead of panicking and losing your composure, stop for a moment and assess the actual situation and then decide on a plan of action.  Then quickly and calmly direct those involved to take the appropriate steps you worked out.  Your sureness and composure will calm the others and allow for a quicker handling of the problem with less chaos.

7.  Patience is a virtue.

Yelling at or getting irritated with team members are most often the extreme wrong response to an error, no matter how severe.  It will definitely not lead anyone into better ways of doing things except for fear of losing their jobs. Patience and composure are sterling qualities for a great leader.

Have fun embracing these skills and remember to enjoy the fruits of your own labour as a GREAT leader!


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