How to be a Likeable Boss, even if you are Despicable

By Jack J. Kelly

It’s easy to hate your boss.  Pretty much everyone hates their boss.  Why, working for a boss is like having your mom and dad tell you what to do when you were a kid.  Looking back, you now know it was for your own good.  At the time, it was so irritating to have to follow orders, clean your room, do your homework, eat vegetables, don’t toss your brother out the window, and you can’t lock your little sister all day in the closet just because she is annoying.

It made things worse when one of our friends had the cool parent.  With those parents, your friends were allowed to use curse words, drink a beer, get B grades on their report cards, and stay out late without calling.

I can’t help you with parenting, but certainly will assist you with becoming a more likeable manager and boss.

Build personal connections with people.

Employees are a curious bunch.  They want to be treated like human beings and not office furniture.  So, knowing this fact, it’s easy for you.  Just act like your subordinates are almost human.  When you speak to someone in your group, don’t do it in a condescending way, or bark out commands.  Greet them warmly, make eye contact, and act as if they are the most important person in the room, (even if you feel that your Apple computer is way more important to the business).  Make an attempt to connect with them.  Listen to what they have to say, no matter how boring or trivial.  Try to make them think that you really believe they matter to you, and are important.

I know that it is hard to believe, but if you treat your employees nicely, they will often work harder for you.  They will be more positive and have better productivity, because they feel needed, wanted and respected.  Conversely, if you treat them harshly and shabbily, morale decreases, the absentee rate rises, people quit more frequently, and the work ethic declines dramatically.

Have an open door policy.

It doesn’t have to literally be an open door so that weirdo guy from the mailroom can barge in while you are searching the internet for porn.  Make a real attempt to have people feel that they can approach you with questions and concerns, without fear of criticism or rejection.  Complement them on their work.  Give them specific instances of jobs and assignments that they performed well.  Keep a cheat sheet of the names of your employee’s kids and spouses, and some of their interests and hobbies.  Then you can say, “Hey, how is Janet, still failing out of school, and with her loser boyfriend?”  or “Did your son transition over to becoming a girl yet?”

Your team will be glad that you are so open with them and care about their family and lives. This will also serve to improve employee morale, and have them like you, as if you are a real person with feelings.

Act like you are humble, although we both know that you are so above everyone else in the office.

People don’t like obnoxious, pretentious, arrogant jerks.  Just try to act like you are a regular guy or gal.  You put on your $125.00 pair of jeans one leg at a time, like everyone else.  You jet off to Europe for a long weekend, just like Bob in accounting does.

If your team views you as a real down-to-earth person, they will feel more comfortable around you.  They will feel that you are like them and will appreciate it, and like you.

If you feel your ideas are better than everyone else’s, at least patiently hear them out.  You may be surprised that some people can add value.  Listen to their constructive criticisms, and suggestions for improvement.  Once they notice that you listen, the odds are that they will work harder, because they believe that they are making a difference to the organization.

Stay positive.

I recognize that it is hard to remain positive and upbeat when you are surrounded by a bunch of cretin Neanderthals who are dragging you down to their sewer level.  The trick is that even if you feel this way, come across as positive, motivated, and enthusiastic.  Here are some simple tricks; smile, shake hands, laugh at their stupid jokes, and pretend that everything is great, even though you know that twenty percent of the work force will be laid off or relocated to India.

Use a positive tone in your voice at meetings.  Look at the bright side of things.  Downplay the negative aspects of the job and the company.  Point to ways that people can grow and advance their careers.  Show them how to succeed.  Treat people to a pizza party on someone’s birthday.  Take the team out to dinner if they achieve a certain goal.  A pat on the back, a high five or a thumbs-up takes little effort; but is greatly appreciated, and goes a long way.

Be generous and gracious with your time and energy.

Likeable bosses share what they know, to help teach and grow their group member’s skills and knowledge.  Tell your management about all the good, quality work your team has accomplished.  Praise people in front of others and watch how happy you make them.

Take the time to mentor someone.  Go out for coffee with an employee who is having a bad day, and try to help them.  Offer guidance and advice to help them overcome obstacles.  Don’t act rushed or hurried in their presence.  Please don’t check your watch and grimace when a distraught employee is pouring out their heart and soul to you.  If someone needs to work late, roll-up your sleeves and join them.  If a person needs to head out of the office early due to a sick child, cover for them.

Pretend to have integrity.

Come across as honest, straight forward, and sincere.  People will notice and appreciate it.  If they feel you are dishonest and untrustworthy, they will not like you or want to work for you. Everything you do will be perceived as something which will adversely impact their job.

Look at the person’s body language and facial expressions.

Actually spend some time looking at people when you talk with, and work with them.  By noticing their expressions, you can tell if they are happy or searching for pitchforks to start an uprising against you.

Take care of your team financially.

Just like you should share the credit with your employees, also be fair and reasonable when it comes time for raises, bonuses and promotions.  If a person works hard, achieves their assigned goals, and is shortchanged with a poor bonus, (especially if they find out you took the lion share of the bonus pool), you have ruined their future work ethic.  Why should they kill themselves if you reap all the financial rewards?  Also, promote the high achievers, even if it means they will move to a different division within the company.  If staff members do not see any advancement or light at the end of the tunnel, they won’t respect you and will dislike you intensely.  Their work will suffer, and they will leave and go to a competing company.

If someone leaves, act like a professional.

Don’t treat a person that leaves the firm for a new opportunity as an enemy.  Avoid badmouthing them to others, or giving a bad review out of anger and resentment.  Wish them well in their future endeavors.  Others within the group will view you as a nice, caring person, supportive of a team member’s career growth.  They may even start liking you.

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