Does the Boss Matter?

published in: Educational articles

05 Jan

More than 95% of all people in the workforce have bosses, are bosses, or both.  The relationship “manager – employee” is present in almost all companies.  Over 70% of employees identify dealing with their immediate supervisor as the most stressful part of the job.  A Swedish study, conducted on 3122 people from year 1999 to 2009, found that employees supervised by bad managers suffered 20-40% more heart attacks than those supervised by good managers.

leader, manager, boss, employee, supervisor, subordinate

No doubt, bosses matter to everyone they oversee, but they matter especially to their direct subordinates.  Bosses matter because they determine the pattern of behaviour in the organization, the tone of the relationships ...

To be good business leaders, managers means to continually enhance the subordinates’ performance by watching their backs:  providing a safe working environment for the employees to act, learn, and take calculated risks;  protect them from unnecessary distractions and any external idiocy of any stripe;  and creating hundreds of small scenarios to help them achieve one small success after another (regardless of the size of the success it has a huge positive impact on people’s motivation) and feel dignity and pride along the way.

Here are some real life cases, requiring immediate action:

A manager repeatedly shares with friends one and the same problem with a subordinate.  The subordinated is totally unaware of the existence of that problem (possible causes for the situation: a lack of honest, open relationships or indecisive manager).

A supervisor to a team member, in the presence of the whole team:
leader, manager, boss, employee, supervisor, subordinate"How can you be so stupid?
Haven’t you visited a school?  Have you ever learnt mathematics?" (Not only that the supervisor did not preserve the dignity of the employee, but he even humiliated the employee; in the U.S., Germany, France, such a case will be followed by lawyer’s intervention and the employee will be paid a solid compensation, but in former communist countries that would be very difficult and several years long procedure).

An example of success rewarding:  An employee ends a deal at eur 85 000 margin, while the average margin for that types of deals is eur 8-10 000.  Employee's manager honours him in front of the entire company and praises him with a memorable prize – an excursion (for two - employee and his beloved; to a place of employee’s choice;  budget - according to the rules of the company - if there aren’t any around 1.5-3 % of the margin).

An example of external distraction prevention:  An employee is in a process of divorcing.. Her husband is troubling her on the phone and frequent visits to the office.  The manager bans her husband office visits and exchanges her business telephone number with that of her colleague.  The colleague is acting as a telephone calls filter.

Managers are evaluated on the results achieved during the year.  That forces them to give priority to the annual results at the expense of investment in employees.  Good managers have to balance short-term results and long-term investment in people.  Leaders, when necessary, sacrifice short-term results in the name of quality employees and high long-term results (but if these leaders are not at the top of the organizational pyramid, most probably they will have difficulties surviving in this company).

Confucius said it pretty well:
"If you think a year ahead - plant a seed,
if you think 10 years ahead - plant a tree,
if you think 100 years ahead - educate people!"



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