Be a Better Boss

February 7, 2012 02:31 AM

Effective leadership starts with choices

No one likes being known as a poor boss, yet many bosses suffer from a bad reputation, a history of treating people badly and an "it’s your fault" attitude.

Why? "It’s the choices poor bosses make," says Bernie Erven, professor emeritus of ag economics at The Ohio State University, who spoke on human resources at The Execu-tive Program for Ag Producers (TEPAP) in Austin, Texas. "It isn’t because they are bad people, it isn’t because they don’t care, it isn’t that they are insensitive. Often, those bad bosses are hurting more than anyone else on the farm."

You can become a better boss by making better choices, Erven says. Below are his guidelines to improve your human resource skills.

Welcome Change

  • Accept that change is difficult for most people
  • Show your willingness to change
  • Provide employees with the what, why and when of change
  • Determine why employees resist change and address their concerns

Emphasize Communication

  • Make communication the key to building employee relationships
  • Send important messages
  • Vary how you send messages
  • Encourage questions

Have Clear Procedures, Policies and Rules

  • Make your procedures understandable and practical
  • Explain the whys behind procedures, policies and rules
  • Consider written job descriptions, an employee handbook and regular staff meetings

Show Enthusiasm

  • Make your enthusiasm contagious
  • Make believe you are enthusiastic until a bad mood passes
  • Take advantage of your charisma, if you are lucky enough to have it. "Charisma is that very special quality of people wanting to please you, just because you are you," Erven says.

Be Fair

  • Avoid bias, dishonesty and injustice
  • Have consistent discipline and enforcement rules
  • Be friendly with all employees; be a buddy to no employee
  • Show empathy, which means understanding another person’s situation, feelings and attitude

Continue Learning

  • Figure out how you best learn
  • Be humble about what you know
  • Keep learning to stay competent
  • Take advantage of what your employees know
  • Be flexible

Communicate in a Variety of Ways

  • Adjust your leadership style to each person supervised
  • Delegate as much authority and responsibility as circumstances allow
  • Provide feedback on performance in a manner that fits the employee

Envision Success

  • Seek stability in strategic goals
  • Insist on high standards
  • Treat mediocrity like poison

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