Part of owning a small business is being a boss. You may be leading a team of 20, but you may also be a one-person show. In any circumstance, there are certain expectations employees have for a boss that they may not realize. There are the typical gripes, such as micro-management, but the truly critical issues are much more subtle and nuanced. Even if you are your own boss and you are your only employee, you may need to stop and reflect on addressing your own needs as an employee, as well.
- Employees just want someone to listen. This was an eye-opening piece of advice imparted upon me when I first transitioned into a leadership position. There is nothing truer than this statement. Employees want to be heard and want to know that their concerns are validated. They want someone to understand them and know that if the concern is big enough, something will be done to help them.
- Employees want to offer input. No one likes being told what to do, and while sometimes this is necessary for your role as a boss, most decisions made with the input from all of your stakeholders are better decisions. Your employees will highlight certain aspects you may not have considered, which can give you a rounder perspective. Also, if employees offer their input, they gain ownership of the idea which creates a stronger buy-in.
- Employees want to feel appreciated. Generalized thanks and appreciation is important, but the most meaningful appreciation is personal and personalized. Take a moment out of your day to thank someone for the work he/she is doing. Give specific thanks by highlighting an anecdote or activity to praise. Employees who feel appreciated are harder-working because they understand that what they’re doing is being valued.
- Employees want you to be honest with them. This is so simple but incredibly important. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you’ll get back to them. Give a truthful explanation for a decision, be frank about evaluations. Honesty builds true relationships.
- Employees want you to be the boss. They want someone they could look to for leadership, guidance, and support; a boss who will take control of situations. They want someone who will correct and address issues that are wrong. They want you to know what you’re doing and make them feel safe.
Remember, no matter the size of the team you’re leading, lead with grace and with an open mind. Never forget your employees are people first – with families, sadness, celebrations – if you keep your humanity in check, with their well-being always at the forefront, you will be an astounding boss.