When I'm boss...

A guest post today from Beth Hunter, who sent this to me eons ago and I forgot all about it until just now. Sorry, Beth! Read on:

Ah, youth.

Remember when you had your first job? You were probably in your late teens or early 20s and realized this isn’t what you thought it was going to be like. From that time on, you took mental notes about what kind of a boss you’d be one day. I recently ran across an article titled something like "When I'm Boss". The writer said she started a notebook when she joined the work force after college. Being a goal-driven person, I too kept mental notes of some trials, tribulations, victories and successes. In full regulatory fashion, I must disclose that I am not a "boss" – despite what my sisters may have said about me. However, I have been responsible for numerous tasks involving others and at one time daily managed several local high school cooperative students.

My most important entries are:

1. Set an example by doing non-boss things. I subscribe to the theory that you should never ask someone to do a task without you either being willing to help or have done such a job in the past. Employees respect someone that's not "too good" to get dirty - like helping assemble agendas or picking up litter beside the elevator.

2. Aid in a company/department-wide clean up - where you clean too. Employees enjoy ownership of tasks. Ask for volunteers for each item on the "to do" list.

3. Take each of your employees out to lunch one day a year and just talk about stuff, not necessarily about work. If it must be about work, then go for a work anniversary or review date.

4. Hang pictures of your family in your office and encourage others to do the same. (I read statistics about this making the workplace better, especially for working moms.)

5. Set regular meeting times and keep them. Anyone arriving more than 5 minutes late gets locked out or rescheduled.

6. Never think, "They don’t pay me to do ___". You are a company’s most valuable asset, no matter what your position. Every job is worthy of someone doing it. Don’t believe me? Ask your sanitation worker.

7. Saying nothing is better than a lie or gossip. If you are sworn to secrecy, be honest with an, "I can’t say". Remember the quote, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me?" That doesn’t apply in management.

8. People notice how you dress more than you may think. Arrive, as we Southerners say, "already put together". I once heard a preacher say, "A little paint on the barn don’t hurt nothing." Maybe you don’t need makeup, but a little lipstick brightens the face and a crisp, pressed shirt makes men look like they took the time to look nice. In my family, we have a saying, "Isn’t there anyone who loves her enough to tell her what she looks like?"

9. Smile. Smile even when your 12-hour girdle looks as though it’s in its 20th hour. Smile when it’s a bad hair day. Want proof? Look at pictures of yourself. If you had just smiled, no one would have noticed you had on two different earrings. My Dad always says, "You can’t wish someone to be happy. You make the decision to be happy yourself." You are much more approachable smiling.

10. Remind yourself of the Maya Angelou quote: "I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Let each employee know he/she’s done something well. It goes a long way.

I occasionally speak to juniors and seniors in high school about "soft skills" in the workplace. Please share your mental notes and feedback – I could always use new material… You may contact me at [email protected]

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