How to be a good boss - celebrating bosses day 2020
Apparently 16th October is 'Boss's day' which sounds to me like a little bit too much like something that Hallmark thought of to sell more greetings cards. So I thought I would shift the focus a little bit and share some thoughts on what I have found over the last 12 years which (hopefully) makes me a decent boss and gives my team the initiative and creativity to make their work more than just a job, but helps them feel part of the brand and company, all working together towards a shared goal of 'Reusables for the masses'
I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I have a pin-ball machine for a brain and can get frustrated when people don't keep up with my mental acrobatics. However that means I also don't expect perfection from my team. I expect them to try hard and do their best, but I also acknowledge that everyone gets it wrong sometimes. When something goes wrong, or doesn't turn out as we expected it to, what's super important for me is that my team learn from it. As the inspiring Julie Colan from Secret Whispers said 'Either I win, or I learn. I never lose'. My own personal version of this is #brightside. Whether it's having so much stock on hand due to an overstock issue that it provides insulation for the warehouse (!) or making a sizing error during the first production run of a new style of pants, what's important is that we learn something. And then move on.
2. Don't come to me with problems, come to me with solutions
I am very much a 'can-do' person. Not in a 'yes, I'll do anything' sort of way, but more in a 'there's always a solution' type way. Over the years my team have realised that coming me to with a list of complaints or problems doesn't cut the mustard. Problems can and do crop up. However I encourage everyone in my team to take ownership of the problem, think it through, talk it through with other team members and then present me with their ideas for how to resolve the issue. Doing so provides them with engagement and empowerment, and satisfaction from seeing the 'threat' turned into an opportunity to improve things.
3. It's better to apologise for initiative than ask for permission
I have completely stolen this from the amazing Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, in her book 'Everywoman'. 'Do things you weren't asked to do if you think they are a good idea. It's always easier to apologise for initiative than it is to seek approval'. I trust my team implicitly. They understand the company and the brand and it's no exaggeration to say that they live the brand. (Just check out our Instagram if you need any examples). So if they've got an idea about doing something new or different, whilst the control freak in me has a tendency to need to know EVERYTHING, I try to encourage a culture where taking the initiative is the norm, knowing that as their boss, I will have their back. Even if it doesn't work out. See point 1!
4. Treat your staff as you would expect to be treated
This isn't just a tip for the workplace, but a life mantra generally, however when it comes to being a good boss, this is absolutely key. Having grown from 6 staff to 35 in the course of a year and thrown covid-19 into the mix too has been a challenge. It's about listening to your staff, treating them with respect and being fair. This includes allowing flexibility to balance family life and work, and being rewarded for doing a great job. There's a flip side to this of course in that I expect my staff to respect their co-workers and Cheeky Wipes as a team. That includes not letting the team down with poor behaviour in whatever form that may take. I don't do it, so I don't expect my team to do it either.
As I said right at point 1, I'm not a perfect boss by any stretch of the imagination. But, quoting the fabulous Brené Brown, I'm doing my best to get it right, not necessarily to BE right.
I'd be really interested to hear if any of this resonates with you, or if you have any top tips to share, please leave me a comment below.