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How to Be a Good Boss: 7 Tips for Supervisors and Managers

I have a Master of Arts in English and have taught English Composition off and on part-time for my local community college.

Boss's Day cups make great gifts! I bought this one for myself!

Boss's Day cups make great gifts! I bought this one for myself!

Tips for Being a Good Boss

Are you a good boss? Do you want to be a better boss? Regardless of whether you supervise a few people or a large group of people, there are things you can do to be a top-notch boss.

Are good supervisors born that way? Some would say so. You may be naturally friendly and concerned, which is important to employees. You might have a head for numbers and budgets. Perhaps your strength is organizational skills. Sure, you may have a head start on what it takes to be a good boss, but there are things you can practice that will make you a much more respected—and even popular—boss with your employees.

1. Be Genuine and Show Interest

Employees will like you better if they know that you genuinely care about their welfare. Just because you’re the big boss now doesn’t mean that you have to walk around with your nose in the air and your head in the clouds.

Your employees will feel good—and thus be happier in their jobs—when you treat them like real people. Use common courtesy: shake their hands when you meet them for the first time, smile, say hello when you run into them in the hallway. You don’t have to be all buddy-buddy to fit in with their group; just be friendly. After new hires are on the job for a few weeks, ask them how the job is going.

Conduct employee surveys from time to time. Ask specific questions about employees’ opinions on salaries and benefits, effectiveness of training, communication in the workplace, and—oh, yeah—their feelings about their supervisors. Knowing how employees feel provides a baseline for improving the workplace and thus retaining a consistent staff.

2. Be a Good Listener

Why is it that listening seems to be one of the hardest skills? Probably because a lot of people are thinking about what they are going to say next. Those types of "listeners" are definitely not practicing active listening. Focusing on the person talking to you and really hearing them will make a huge difference in your interaction with employees.

Show them that you are listening by reflecting back to them what they said to you. Repeat some key phrases. Summarize the gist of the conversation. When employees share complaints or concerns, tell them that you will get back to them about it. And do it!

3. Follow Through With What You Say

After a problem has been dumped into your lap, don’t just let it sit there. As a boss, it is your responsibility to do something about those issues. I have known supervisors who were excellent listeners but lacked follow-through. After a while, listening is not enough, and it becomes tiresome. The employee views his supervisor as someone who will not deal with issues, and respect goes out the window.

So you’ve listened well, and you’ve consoled the upset employee—but your job is not done there. It’s time to act. Come up with a solution to help with the issue, and follow up with the employee to work through that solution with them. Report to them when their concerns are addressed. This course of action is one of the best ways for supervisors to build trust with their employees. It’s not enough to just listen. Do what you say you’re going to do!

4. Be Fair and Consistent

Being fair and consistent is another behavior that will instill confidence in employees. As a boss, treating each employee in the same manner will further build their trust and confidence that you will look out for them and treat them fairly. In matters of discipline, let the punishment fit the crime, for one thing. Don't be too harsh on an employee because of an isolated incident such as a one-time tardiness to work. On the other hand, don't be too lax when the employee's actions could seriously affect other employees and the company in a negative way.

Furthermore, make sure that reprimands are consistent with each employee. Sure, you can take individual circumstances into consideration, but allowing one employee to get away with something while others do not will hurt your credibility more than anything. Employees will see you as playing favorites and will lose their trust in you.

5. Make Employees Feel Like They're a Part of Things—Communicate!

Make employees feel that they belong to the workplace by including them in important communications and events. When things are hectic, it’s sometimes hard to remember to let them know of important policy changes or company happenings. Getting in the habit of sending out a short email or memo will help to keep employees in the loop.

Hold regular staff meetings in which you make announcements. Share with your staff things that will affect the company as well as them personally. Employees who feel a sense of belonging and ownership in a company will be more likely to stay with the company. Positive staff retention will lend consistency to your organization and save a bundle in staff turnover.

6. Reward Employees

Research indicates that feeling valued is one of the top motivators in keeping employees in a job. Still, money will always be an important factor. As much as your budget allows, reward employees monetarily based on their qualifications, experience, and job performance.

Praise them verbally. Just a few words—“You did a good job”—will make an employee feel that somebody noticed. Putting your money where your mouth is, though, by giving raises where they are warranted will add to their sense of worth in the company.

There are other things you can do besides increasing salaries. Hold company picnics, or bring a grill and have a cookout. Put up signs to sign up for potlucks. Anything out of the ordinary workday—especially if it involves food—will help bring a sense of camaraderie into the workplace.

Have employee drawings for prizes or special privileges when you get the group together for meetings. Where I worked as a supervisor, I purchased a wheel that employees would spin and win prizes. We would draw their names for a chance to spin the wheel and win various prizes—hats, cups, gift cards, random items that I collected just for that purpose. This activity brought a lot of smiles and laughter to otherwise dry meetings.

7. If All Else Fails, Give Them Candy!

I always had a container of candy—chocolate, mints, a mixture of things, just inside my office door. Employees from all over the building knew they could come by and sneak a piece of two of candy. It was a good way to keep in touch and say hello to employees I otherwise did not see very often. And a dose of sugar made their days a little better!

In all seriousness, I know that it is hard to find a good boss. I also know that it is hard to BE a good boss. I have also been a supervisor. I was the big boss over hundreds of employees, with a few reporting directly to me. Being the boss is not an easy position in which to be.

Being genuine, fair, and consistent will go a long way in helping you do the best you can when placed in that position. I would hope, despite any of my shortcomings, that employees still remember me as practicing those things and giving my best efforts for them.

I am sure that they remember the candy.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Victoria Lynn


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 29, 2013:

Thanks, teaches! If only more bosses would listen, huh? :-)

Dianna Mendez on May 28, 2013:

When a boss listens to an employee it solves much of the communication problems and encourages positive attitudes. Great post on how to be a great boss.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 28, 2013:

Sunshine--I agree! It IS all about teamwork, and a boss who can exemplify that is wonderful--few and far between, too! Thanks for reading this. I hope more bosses read this, too!

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on May 28, 2013:

I sure hope a few bosses read your advice! There would be many happier employees if they did.

There are bosses and there are leaders. I'm a fan of the leaders, which I have always been. It's all about teamwork :)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on January 28, 2013:

CLCMPK--I'm glad you found the information you needed. Thanks for stopping by!

CLCMPK on January 26, 2013:

Exactly what I have been looking for. Thank you!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 23, 2012:

Thanks, Maria, for the input. I agree on the listening and communication factors. Thanks for the votes and hugs! :-)

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on October 23, 2012:


These are wise guidelines that would be wonderful for all supervisors to adopt. The two most important, and often overlooked in my opinion, are listening and communication.

Comprehensive and meaningful. Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 15, 2012:

klanguedoc--Thanks! Glad you approve!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 14, 2012:

GlstngRosePetals--I'm glad you think it's good advice. Thanks for your input. :-)

klanguedoc on October 13, 2012:

I should send this to HR. Great advice.

GlstngRosePetals from Wouldn't You Like To Know on October 13, 2012:

This is some really good advise Thank you so much for sharing. Voted up!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 08, 2012:

Aw, Effer! Right back at ya!

Suzie from Carson City on October 07, 2012:

I UNDERSTAND you Vee....You're a major COOL chick and you rock!! LOL....

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 07, 2012:

Thanks, Rosemay, for the input. That morning teas and cakes is nice, too! Thanks again!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 06, 2012:

You're right, Effer, I was a KickA** boss! :-) Yeah, but you can't win everybody over if you're a good boss. I was well-liked with employees, for the most part, but not everyone agreed with me or understood me. Thanks for your input, as always!!!!

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on October 05, 2012:

You tied this up so neatly here. Love the candy idea. I used to put on morning teas with cakes etc for any employee with a birthday.

Acting on what you've said you'll do is so important for the trust and respect from employees. Keeping them in the loop too makes them feel valued.

Well set out and useful guidelines for any boss.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 05, 2012:

Thanks, Irc7815! It seemed to work for us pretty well where I was for a while. :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 05, 2012:

teaches--Yes, fairness goes a long way . . . and so does candy! :-)

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 05, 2012:

LOL,Bill! You have the best boss ever!!!!

Suzie from Carson City on October 05, 2012:

Hey Vee......I think you would be an A-#1 Boss Lady!! Being the boss, isn't always what it's cracked up to be, is it? Although I always took great pride in leading a group or supervising over a team, I can recall times, I'd have rather just been responsible for myself.

This hub tells it so well. The tips you present are excellent and should be required reading for any one placed in a position of authority, so to speak.

I do remember early on in my working career, one of my first mentors said something that was very interesting to me and I have never forgotten.....He said, "You know, as with anything else, when you're in a Supervisory position, over a sizable group of staff, if they all love you to pieces, you're not a very effective Boss." I knew exactly what he meant, which also made me realize, when you have the Boss position, you have to have a thick skin, because it's impossible for everyone to like you, if you're taking your job seriously.

Being the Boss, is definitely not a popularity contest!......UP+++

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on October 04, 2012:

Great advice and tips for making the environment at work a happier place for all.

Dianna Mendez on October 04, 2012:

Good chuckle on the candy advice! I believe that being fair with your employees goes a long way in building trust and loyalty, even if they don't like your management methods. Great post and well done.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 04, 2012:

Thanks, Janine! I'm glad you see this as valuable. Thanks for voting and sharing, too.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 04, 2012:

My employees love me for sure....or...put it another way...I love myself. :)

Great suggestions; I've worked for a few bosses that needed these tips.

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on October 04, 2012:

Victoria, so very true and have to tell you that the director at my husband's company should read this article, because she just doesn't know how to relate to those who report to her. You really do give some valuable tips here and have voted and shared too.