What It Means to Be the Boss

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What It Means to Be the Boss (Conclusion)

Pointers from Paulie B: A leader teaches while a boss orders

GLENDALE, Ariz. — What exactly is a boss? The dictionary definition is a “person who exercises control or authority. Specifically, one who directs or supervises workers.”

This leads me to the word “supervision.” Does a boss really have a “super” vision? Some do, and some don’t.

Experience is a great teacher, but only if you recognize the pluses and minuses from your experiences and learn from them.

That said, the reality of being a boss is a lot more than a simplistic dictionary definition.

In Part 1 of this article, I looked at being the boss to being the leader, understanding that the person in charge is a role model, and finding that it’s lonely at the top. Let’s conclude:

Lead by Example

I absolutely hated to fold laundry myself. Boring!! However, I made myself do some drop-offs from time to time so my crew would know that I understood their work, and maybe I’d get some insights into the cleaning process.

More importantly, I wanted them to know that I wasn’t above any of their work. Yes, I mumbled and complained, just like them … and they loved it.

Be kind, generous and funny. Lift them up, but don’t take any crap. Some employees will definitely test your limits to see what they can get away with.

You’re doing good if your crew looks up to you, if they come to you for advice. If you have created an atmosphere where they want to do a great job not only to gain your recognition, but for their own satisfaction, then you are doing something right.

Watch Your Mood — The mood of the boss is quickly picked up by the crew, so try to maintain good moods when you are with them (you can always scream in your car on the way home). Coming to work angry or upset will frighten some workers and cause resentments.

By contrast, the boss’ good mood can really help raise a crew’s mood, which in turn will raise the moods of customers. Happy employees mean happy customers, and happy customers mean more business for you. So everybody wins.

Be Honest — If you lie to your employees and they find out, you will have destroyed any trust you may have built.

When Employees are Right, Stand Up for Them — I had a wonderful woman work for me for years. She was honest, worked hard, came in early every day, and even addressed me as “Sir.” She was one of my top workers, but she was also very timid and became frightened easily if a customer was hard on her.

One drop-off customer frequently and deliberately tried to intimidate her. I think he was simply an unhappy, angry man. This went on for months until he screamed at her one day when I was there. I walked over to see what was going on, and he had her in tears because she didn’t write up his ticket quickly enough.

From his spot on the sidewalk in front of our drop-off window, he screamed that I should fire her. My response: “I have documented all of your bad behavior on camera, and I am firing you. Never come back here again.”

Correct Your Employees, but the Right Way — When your employees are wrong, correct them. But do it privately, and document the incident for their employee file.

If you employ someone who you’ve warned a few times about a serious infraction of your rules, I think you must fire them. Just make sure you have everything spelled out in their file first, so you have facts—times, dates, video clips, statements from people involved, etc.—to back you up. Producing a timeline of events that has brought you to the point of letting this person go will help protect you if there’s pushback.

Maintain Standards — Your standards are what set you aside from competitors. It’s not just standards for employees, but for suppliers and vendors as well. I knew a hardware store owner who bragged about waiting as long as possible to pay his creditors. I thought, “Why is he bragging about squeezing his suppliers? Won’t they resent that?”

Be a good payer, and suppliers will do some surprising favors for you. So, the way you treat everyone else is also an important standard.

A good boss will always have backups for any emergency, so split your purchases among more than one supplier to keep them competitive.

Use Your Power Sparingly — You have power. It’s inherent in your role as boss. But use it sparingly, because when you do, it’s more effective.

Motivating is Better than Supervising — Isn’t it better to employ people who know the job well, and to let them shine, than to be critiquing every move they make?

A Leader Teaches While a Boss Orders — Be a fixer, not a micromanager. When your workers come to you to solve a problem they can’t solve, demonstrate how to do it while you solve it, so they know for next time. (That’s your “super” vision.)

Cultivate a Good Public Image — As the boss, you have a new role. You need to look at yourself a little differently because others surely will. You are now someone who people will seek out.

You’re a target for money, from sales reps wanting to sell you things and employees looking for raises to customers looking for discounts or a robber hoping to score.

You’ll start to build an image in your neighborhood, so make sure it’s a good one. If you do right by your customers, suppliers and employees, your stature will grow in people’s minds. This is the good part. You’ll get compliments as to how much they like your mat.

In closing, as a business owner, you’re the boss, but you’ll also want to be the leader. So, stay positive, remain calm, be fair, show confidence (but not too much), make thoughtful decisions, and encourage cooperation and teamwork.

Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].