Any quick online search about bosses will return abundant advice on how to impress your boss, how not to annoy your boss, showing gratitude for your boss, how to figure out what your boss is thinking, and on and on. But what if you are the boss? Once you reach a management role, you might find that it’s tougher than you thought to be fair and authoritative in an elevated role.
So we polled two of POPSUGAR’s top bosses, with nearly 20 years of combined experience at the company and asked them to share their most valuable tips for being a great boss.
1. Hire great people, and then trust them to do their jobs.
“Employees do their best work when they feel trusted and empowered, so create a work environment where your team feels valued, but not micromanaged. Be available, provide support, and give feedback, but at the end of the day, trust that your capable, bright employees will do the job you hired them to do.” — Mandy Harris, managing editor
“I want to hire people who I trust to execute our vision and make decisions without me weighing in.” — Nancy Einhart, executive editor
2. Don’t be afraid to admit when you’ve made a mistake or don’t know the answer.
“Great bosses are respected (sometimes even revered) by their teams, but they’re not infallible. To build trust among your team members, don’t hesitate to admit when you were wrong or need a second opinion. Your team will respect you even more for being honest, and it’ll teach them to speak up when they screw up, too.” — Mandy
“You also have to accept that, as with any job, you will make mistakes as a manager. I’ve made plenty of them. I think people would rather you make a wrong decision and fix it than make no decision at all. When mentoring new managers, I find that it helps to be honest with them about the mistakes you’ve made or the challenges you’ve faced. Let them know that what they’re experiencing is common and, in fact, you’ve dealt with the same thing.” — Nancy
3. Learn how to do the job you’re asking others to do.
“You’ll earn your team’s respect and loyalty by showing them that you’re willing to get in the trenches with them. That doesn’t mean you have to be ‘in the weeds’ every day instead of doing your own job, but working alongside your team will give you better insight into their daily tasks and prove to them that you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty.” — Mandy
4. Honest feedback is key — even (or especially) when it’s difficult to give.
“Often, we shy away from delivering difficult feedback, because it’s scary and not fun. But I’ve learned that it’s far more deleterious not to be honest. It’s much fairer to be candid with people about what they’re doing wrong and what’s holding them back. Otherwise, you’re not setting them up for success, and you’re setting yourself up to be frustrated. I find that as long as I deliver critical feedback in a constructive, thoughtful, and kind way, people are grateful to hear it. As a manager, you simply cannot avoid difficult conversations. You just have to accept going in that it’s going to be a difficult conversation but that it has to be done.” — Nancy
5. Listening well and finding solutions breeds trust.
“You have to be a good listener, which means taking it all in but also being focused on solutions. I listen until I understand the problems at hand, then I pause the conversation before it spirals out of control. I’ll say, ‘OK, let me stop you for a sec, because I think I understand the issue,’ then I repeat back the issue. That lets people know they are being heard and keeps them from just complaining for an hour. As long as you keep following up, even if you still don’t have an answer, people feel reassured that you’re trying to figure out a solution. Of course, you eventually do have to figure out a solution, or you lose their trust.” — Nancy