The good habits of popular bosses

CAROLINE JAMES
Last updated 11:00 13/08/2014
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LIKEABLE BOSSES: Do you know every employee's name? If your business has less than 100 employees, you should.

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A boss who shouts rounds on Fridays before telling everyone on Monday to forget pay rises probably won't win any office popularity contests.

OK, popularity is not a prerequisite of business greatness.

But a degree of business hours popularity certainly never hurts the bottom line.

A whopping 86 per cent of staff said having likeable bosses makes them more productive at work, according to a survey by recruitment company TipTopJob.

So what management traits will you need to scoop this year's Ms/Mr Corporate Congeniality crown?

BE FRIENDLY

Do you know every employee's name? If your business has less than 100 employees, you should.

Greet each person you pass in the hallway or see in the lift. A quick but genuine pause to say "hello, how are you?" goes a long way towards showing workers you are approachable and see them as fellow hard-working human beings.

"A great boss I recall is Bruce Moors from when I worked at a software stimulation company called Adacel," says business coach Maureen Pound.

"He was likeable, fair and friendly without becoming one of the gang and losing his status.

"He checked in regularly so you felt supported, was understanding and reasonable and gave us a structure we could follow.

"He got us and the business and was able to align and benefit both."

BE FLEXIBLE

As much as our work lives are riveting, everyone has a life outside office hours. So work out how you'll deal with unexpected disruptions to your workplace.

Think transport delays, poor weather, family crises and missing pets.

Decide what things you can be flexible on and be consistent.

Staff will appreciate your understanding during those times when their "other" lives must take priority.

BE DOWN-TO-EARTH

Wendy Jones worked for four years at a Melbourne transport company before leaving 18 months ago.

Her site manager, Peter, was extremely popular with his team because "he didn't act like a bossy boss" and wasn't shy of working beside his troops.

"He went out and did the hard work too and filled in when it was busy; every other manager in our company wouldn't leave their desk," Jones recalls.

Few of us would probably expect - or even want - our bosses working beside us every day.

But when front-line staff can see managers rolling up their sleeves and returning to "the floor" every now and then, it breaks down corporate walls.

It is also a great opportunity for bosses to experience their own businesses at ground level.

BE COMPASSIONATE

Take a moment to look back at yourself.

Are you genuinely caring for others around you - in good times and in bad? Compassion leads to respect, and respect boosts likeability and loyalty in workers.

Tom* worked as a graphic designer for a national directory service when he encountered Joe*.

Joe was his best boss ever, based on workplace results and human decency.

"He was a remarkably good manager who could keep his eyes on the prize, that is meet targets, but also understood that human beings cannot be top performers all the time," Tom recounts.

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"He acknowledged bad days do happen and that doesn't mean the employee in question is a disposable bludger.

"He managed a group of 40 people without politics or bullying, which in itself is a remarkable feat."

Tom cites this example of Joe's compassionate nature: "I pointed out to him that publishing the names of bottom performers was unprofessional and could lead to self-esteem issues.

"Two weeks after my email, the 'Wall of Shame' ceased to exist."

BE DEPENDABLE

Earlier this year global recruitment company Randstad conducted research into what makes employers most attractive to future staff.

Four out of five (80 per cent) listed honesty as the most desirable trait in a potential employer, closely followed by reliability (71 per cent) and security (61 per cent).

Pound agrees emotional intelligence including displays of empathy, fairness and staff trust are "number one" in her mind.

If you want to be popular, never make promises you can't keep.

Staff must be able to trust you; their financial and professional future is in your hands.

"A boss is a people motivator so needs EQ to be able to do this," Pound says.

"He can have all the technical and business skills you like but if he can't lead the people then it won't work."

BE UPBEAT

We all know how quickly negative vibes can bring others down. But the flip-side is equally true.

Positive energy and emotions starting with the boss can produce boost corporate creativity and improve morale quicker than an all-expenses paid work trip to Hamilton Island (well, at least as quickly).

Be genuinely optimistic with staff and they will most likely reflect it back.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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