April 05, 2016 – Colleen Niese – Insights

Best Lessons Learned From the Worst Bosses

M ScottI heard on the radio today a story about some sort of an annual award given to the world's worst bosses. Top prize this year went to a boss who threw his employees' paychecks into a trash bin, forcing them to dig for their pay. While there is nothing I can think of to be learned from that horrid leader, my mind started to mentally run through every one I had ever worked for and as I reflected I was once again reminded that some of the best lessons I ever learned came from the shortcomings of those who led me.

Respect. On my last day of one of my positions back in the corporate world, my boss wouldn't shake my hand goodbye. While that was now years ago, that moment typically pops into my head when I get into a conversation about respect. Especially in our industry, the phrase "it's a small world" comes to fruition on a pretty regular basis and specifically when it's time to say good bye, demonstrating genuine respect as part of the farewell ensures your employee retains a favorable impression of the company and the individual leader.

Trust.  I once worked for someone who brought lying to a whole new level. Not only was the trust broken, but for many of us the presumption we would believe him just added insult to injury and it was all so unnecessary. I think we all learn so early on that trust is earned; and not expected and there is only one, simple route to get there: be as accurate and complete as you can with every conversation you have with your employees - from the hallway exchange to an annual managers meeting and everything between.

Tidal Wave.  One of my first bosses loved, loved, loved to change priorities on a routine basis. Monday it was really important to complete a training project and by Friday that would be long forgotten and in its place would be responding to a client request - which we may, or may not complete.  I call that the tidal wave manager - someone who comes crashing in, recedes and then returns with another wave of stuff that reads artificial urgency all over it. The best way to avoid this reputation and all the confusion that comes with it, is to commit to yourself the current list of priorities and avoid the temptation to move onto the next “big” thing before the related objectives are executed and adopted by all involved.

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