7 things every employee wants in a boss

7 things every employee wants in a boss

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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Some of us are dreading the next “Boss Appreciation Day.” If you haven’t been feeling the love from your team lately, here is your wakeup call.

It’s never too late to become an exceptional leader, but not for the sake of receiving one more “World’s-Best-Boss” mug. Do it because of the impact your leadership can have on the happiness of your employees. Here are seven time-tested principles that will get you back on track.

Establish clear vision

Exceptional managers start with a clear vision for their team and make sure each member of the team shares in that vision. When was the last time you sat down with your team to talk about the big picture? Authors of the best-selling book, “The Leadership Challenge,” discovered that being a forward-thinking leader is behind only honesty as the most admired characteristic of a good leader. Along the way we all need reminders of where we are going and why it matters. Shared vision is critical to employee engagement.

Set clearly defined expectations

Gallup once identified setting expectations as the most important ingredient of great management. When managers clearly communicate what’s expected of team members, they eliminate problems with job performance. Be clear in defining how each member of your team “wins” in their individual role, and then measure performance regularly. We are far more likely to achieve our goals when they are clearly defined and someone else holds us accountable. Once each member knows what’s expected, give them the space they need to make it happen.

Lead by example

Do you “do what you say you will do?” When managers don’t live by the same expectations they set for their teams, they teach that the rules apply to everyone else. Once you have determined the rules for your team, it’s critical that you live by them. If you want meetings to start on time, make sure that your meetings always start on time. Great leaders are the best example of the standards they set for the team. Hold yourself accountable to those standards and your team will go the extra mile when it matters most.


Remember — this isn't just about you and getting your job done. Being a great manager is also about helping the people on your team to become wildly successful.

Encourage change and growth

We all want to be challenged to become something better. Why else would we spend so much on self-help books and gym memberships? Continuous growth is an important aspect of job fulfillment, according to Forbes, but managers often feel responsibility to extinguish every fire encountered by their team. This style of “hero leadership” causes dependency and does little to encourage learning and growth by individual employees. Great managers are not too quick to provide all of the answers and will help their team grow stronger in the process.

Don’t avoid difficult conversations

The ability to have tough conversations is essential to great leadership. Whether through performance reviews or when expectations are not being met, great managers carefully take these opportunities head on. All relationships go through difficult moments, but being able to successfully navigate these situations deepens levels of trust and shows the rest of the team that you hold everyone to the same standard.

Manage with heart

It isn’t just business, it’s personal. We tend to forget that employees have lives outside of work and that personal challenges can impact job performance. When expectations aren’t being met, find out the root cause of the issue and show genuine empathy when personal situations arise. When possible, allow employees time to get personal matters under control. Recent findings suggest that managers capable of demonstrating empathy and compassion are more effective leaders. Putting people first can only happen when we remember that they are people, first.

Expect unexpected success

Finally, being a great boss is its own reward. There is nothing more rewarding than watching members of your team develop into successful leaders. Clay Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, described managing as the "most noble of professions if it’s practiced well." Success isn't always immediately obvious, but choosing to accept the responsibility to become a great manager will be one of the most rewarding decisions you will ever make.

So the next time Boss Appreciation Day comes around, make sure your team has plenty of reason to be happy with you as their manager. Remember — this isn’t just about you and getting your job done. Being a great manager is also about helping the people on your team to become wildly successful. The manager who leads with this philosophy is sure to have a very successful and satisfying career.

Now get out there and earn those mugs.


Steve Palmer co-founded Thrive Life and loves anything and everything that has to do with business. He is the lucky husband to his incredible wife, Amy, and the proud father of five amazing kids.

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