Good Boss Benefits
What are the benefits of being a Good Boss?
If you are fortunate to be working or have worked for a Good Boss, then you know how it feels to come to a stress-less workplace. Although you may have stress from the work you do, you do not have the emotional stress that comes with dealing with a Bad Boss. Information flows more smoothly. Everyone seems to be in sync, and everyone works well together as a team. Also, there is something unique in the air, but you might not be able to put your finger on it. Likely, it is the culture that you are sensing, and it drives much of the Good Boss behavior that you are experiencing. Besides the warm and fuzzy feelings from working in this type of environment, there are real measurable benefits from practicing Good Boss behavior. Here are some of them.
Creating a sense shared purpose is Good Boss behavior with benfits. In their book The Leadership Challenge 4th Edition, James Kouzes and Barry Posner cite research confirming “…that organizations with a strong corporate culture based on a foundation of shared values outperformed other firms by a huge margin (p.63).
- Their revenue grew more than four times faster.
- Their rate of job creation was seven times higher.
- Their stock price grew twelve times faster.
- Their profit performance was 750 percent higher.
Fostering trust is Good Boss behavior. One of the leading experts on the subject of trust in business is Stephen M.R. Covey. In his book, The Speed of Trust he lists 7 high-trust dividends:
- Increased Value. “...in a Watson Wyatt 2002 study, high-trust organizations outperformed low-trust organizations in total return to shareholders by 286 percent.”
- Accelerated Growth. “…customers buy more, buy more frequently, refer more, and stay longer with companies and people they trust.”
- Enhanced Innovation. “High-trust companies are innovative in the products and services they offer customers, and they have strong cultures of innovation, which only thrive in an environment of high trust.”
- Improved Collaboration. “High-trust company environments foster collaboration and teamwork required for success in the new global economy.”
- Stronger Partnering. “The Warwick Business School study…confirmed that partnering relationships…that are based on trust experienced a high-trust dividend of up to 40 percent of the value of the contract.”
- Better Execution. “High-trust companies are better able than low-trust companies to execute their organization’s strategy.”
- Heighten Loyalty. “High-trust companies elicit far greater loyalty from their primary stakeholders – coworkers, customers, suppliers, distributors, and investors – than low-trust companies.”
Creating a positive work environment is Good Boss behavior. Bosses are responsible for the environment (or culture, or climate) of the department, division, or company. In Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Byatizis, and Annie McKee, they cite numerous studies and statistics about organizational climate and how people feel. For example,
“For every 1 percent improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2 percent increase in revenue.” (p15);
“…poor morale among frontline customer service reps at a given point in time predicts high turnover – and declining customer satisfaction – up to three years later.” (p.17);
“…at a global food and beverage company, positive climate readings predicted higher yearly earnings at major divisions.” (p.17);
“…in a study of nineteen insurance companies, the climate predicted the business performance of the entire organization…” (p.17);
“…how people feel about working at a company – can account for 20 to 30 percent of business performance. Getting the best out of people pays off in hard results.” (p.18);
Roger Connors and Tom Smith are experts in the area of creating a culture of accountability in the workplace. In CHANGE the culture CHANGE the game they state, “Either you manage your culture, or it will manage you. In our work, we continually meet people, at every level of an organization, who get batted around by their company’s culture.Their culture undermines their attempts to get the results they want.”The culture or climate of any company is a reflection of the stated and unstated policies and procedures, and accepted management styles of the bosses. This is the system in which everyone works, and as Dr. W. Edwards Deming famously said, “management is responsible for 96% of the system.” To better understand what Dr. Deming meant, think about which level of management decides things such as, pricing, products, marketing, accounting controls, purchasing decisions, budgets, raises, promotions, bonuses, hiring, firing, rewards, punishments, exceptions to rules, benefits, acquisitions, incentives, and many others that are part of the system.
If you want to be the boss, then you must be willing to take the responsibilities that come with being the boss. Managing the system should be the main focus of any business leader. The system can be either negatively charged or positively charged. As boss, whether the system is positive or negative is a reflection on you.
Driving out fear is Good Boss behavior with benefits. When people talk about fear in the workplace they are not talking about the same scary feeling you get when watching a horror film. The fear discussed here occurs in the workplace and it certainly creates a feeling. The feeling it creates causes information hoarding, reporting of wrong figures, inhibited suggestions, reduced contributions, increased alienation, creation of mistrust, and anxiety. Fear comes from a number of sources. From rewards and recognition practices to complicated approval processes. It comes from mangers blaming others for mistakes and from performance appraisals. It comes from measurement systems such as ratings, rankings, quotas, and unreachable numerical goals. It comes from short-term thinking and quick fixes. It comes from superiors making subordinates feel inferior and from suggestions that fall on deaf ears. It comes from punishment, and from confusion about what to do. It comes from lack of support and big egos.
When people are not comfortable contributing ideas because they are afraid of being judged or ridiculed, then the organization is not using resources to its fullest potential. Conversely, when people face change, they resist for fear of failing or being judged unfavorably by others. If you work in an environment of fear, then change means learning something new. Learning something new means potential mistakes are likely to occur. Mistakes, then, mean blame, ridicule, judgment, humiliation, and inferiority. In this type of environment, how can people expect to be creative or try something new? How does a company succeed and grow without creativity?
Not many people will readily admit to being afraid of making mistakes. After all, most of us probably feel we don’t make mistakes. Mistakes occur because of outside forces – we think. This viewpoint is called fundamental attribution (yes there is actually a name for it). Fundamental attribution is our tendency to attribute favorable outcomes to ourselves as caused by our internal qualities…while seeing our unfavorable outcomes as caused by external forces beyond our control.[i]
Start-ups have an opportunity to prevent fear from proliferating if they identify it early. Older companies, however, have a much more difficult time identifying the inherent causes of fear. To eliminate fear Good Bosses first look at everything they do and the accompanying processes.
Below is a list that may be helpful in identifying fear in your organization:
- Are there excessive approvals for simple purchases such as office supplies?
- What is the approval process for requesting time off?
- Does your annual review process reinforce pleasing the boss?
- Is there an emphasis on short-term thinking?
- Do you use a ranking system of any kind?
- Do people hoard information?
- Is there excessive finger pointing?
- Do you use quotas?
- Are people’s opinions sought after more than facts and data?
- Are people confused about where they fit in?
- Does everyone clearly understand the goals of the organization?
- How often does everyone (including the front-line) make suggestions for improvement?
- How is your suggestion process handled?
- What consequences exist if a person or department does not reach a goal?
- Ask people what they think it takes to get ahead in the organization. (More effective if asked by an outsider)
- Are you rewarding “heroes” for fighting fires?
- What is the typical response when someone makes a mistake?
- What is your turnover rate? (Compared to other companies in your industry)
There are number of other questions that one could add to this list, but it is a good start. Once you’ve identified that fear exists (and almost invariably you will) what do you do?
Removing reinforcements of fear from policies, procedures, and processes is only the beginning. It is the easiest place to start and is essential for permanent change.There are other, not so apparent places to look to begin driving out fear.
The mirror. Look at your own style of management to determine if you are contributing to fear. This is not an easy thing to do since many of us can’t fathom we need to improve in this area. After all, you are in a position of management because you’re so great – right? We discuss management style in a subsequent section.
- Look at your reward and recognition system. What types of behavior does your organization reward? What types of behavior does your organization not reward? Who is recognized? When? Do you even have a recognition system in place?
- Look at your punishment system. What types of behavior does your organization punish? How much latitude do people have to make mistakes?
- Look at your decision process. How do people go about making decisions? Are decisions proactive or reactive? If reactive, is the response abrasive? Do you show your frustration or impatience?
- How much ownership do people have in their job? Are your employees always waiting for a response from you on what to do next? If so, it may be because they are afraid of making a mistake.
Driving out fear is one of the single best ways to get the most from people in your company and one of the top Good Boss behaviors. Without fear, people are free to contribute ideas and build on others creativity. This generates passion, excitement, energy, and most of all people give their discretionary effort. This is free effort given to every person who is unencumbered by the shackles of fear.
These are just some of the benefits of Good Boss behavior. Given the mounting evidence from the behavioral and neuroscientific communities, it seems strange that anyone needs convincing that this type of leadership far outweighs Bad Boss leadership. Besides the benefits listed here others include; increased passion, increased energy, increased discretionary effort, improved morale, less stress therefore better focus and concentration, improved employee satisfaction therefore improved customer satisfaction, higher loyalty, lower costs, and many more.
[i] Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins, Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What To Do Instead (San Francisco, CA; Berrett-Koehler, 2000), p. 60