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Here’s How to Be a Great Boss

Never suck at management again—Here's how to be a great boss

“...most American workers are not engaged at work. At the heart of this epidemic are bad bosses.” —From How to Be a Great Boss

About six months ago I was promoted to a management position at Accelity Marketing and I quickly learned that whether you manage a team of 3, or 30, you’re someone’s boss.

My problem? While I was very excited about the opportunity, I didn’t know where the heck to start to give my team the tools they need to succeed.


Since my promotion, I’ve participated in a few management training courses that gave me more confidence in who I am as a manager, and how I can effectively assist my direct reports.

However, I still felt like I was missing something. That’s when I picked up the book, How to Be a Great Boss. From this book, I’ve pulled a few actionable takeaways to help you build success as a manager:


Your people are your number one advantage.

Your people are your most valuable asset—that’s why you are in charge of training them, helping them grow, and making sure they fit with your company culture. As a boss, it’s crucial to make sure you have the right people in the right seat, whether you promoted them or inherited them.


Right person

The right person is someone who is a fit with your company culture and values. You should evaluate employees from this lens every quarter.

For example, Accelity has 7 core values:

  • Growth
  • Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Ownership
  • Transparency
  • Passion
  • Fun

We measure each individual against these values each quarter with a +, +/- or - to make sure we have the right people at our agency.


Right seat

Do you have someone at your company who is a great fit with the culture, but just isn’t performing well? They are probably in the wrong seat. Work with this individual to build their confidence or skill in their role, or move them to a role better suited for them. This will increase company productivity and increase this employee’s engagement.

You can measure whether or not you have a person in the right seat by asking 3 questions:

  • Do they understand what their role entails? (They get it.)
  • Do they desire to be successful in their role? (They want it.)
  • Do they have the skills needed to be successful in the role? (They have it.)

Sometimes being a great boss is hard when you have the right person in the wrong seat and don’t have another option for them. Remember being a great boss means making tough decisions, not avoiding them. You may need to have some fierce conversations about their performance, and their future at the company. 

Takeaway: Your people are your most important resource; take the time to evaluate them. Ultimately, your company will work at optimal levels when it has the right person in the right seat.



Stop wasting time on the wrong things.

Some bosses waste a lot of time on:

  1. Bad/the wrong employees
  2. Tasks their direct reports dropped on them (also known as monkeys)
  3. Tasks that should be delegated

All three of these things take valuable time away from managing all of your direct reports effectively.


Spending too much time on “bad” employees

This is an issue because when you spend too much time managing the direct reports that are in constant need of help, or who aren’t performing up to par, you leave little time to develop the people who are likely in the right seat. This may result in your top employees feeling less engaged, and ultimately… quitting. Uh-oh!

Here’s a tip: Set aside time for a weekly meeting with each of your direct reports to ensure they have a set time every week that guarantees your undivided attention.


Taking on people’s monkeys

Imagine that you are working on a project, and then one of the people you manage walks into your office. They present you with a problem, and then you decide that you’ll just take on this issue. It’ll be easier that way. You’ve just taken on their “monkey.”

Stop doing this!

In the short-term, this may be an easy solution, but it doesn’t benefit you or your employees. You end up taking on more work than you can likely handle. Your direct report doesn’t learn anything. Nobody wins.

Instead, the next time an employee stops in to try and pass one of their “monkeys” off to you, start asking questions. Ask what research they’ve done on the issue, or how they think the issue should be handled. Then provide guidance as needed. This allows them to think critically instead of being lazy, and allows you to take on less work.


Not delegating

As a once overwhelmed marketing manager, I'm guilty of this. Let’s be honest… we are all guilty of this. Whether it’s pride, or fear of handing off a task to someone else who might not do it “right,” there is always something to hold us back from delegating. 

If pride is holding you back, get over your ego! Many bosses who manage people who have their old job generally have this issue. They think they will lose value if they don’t continue to do their old job, plus their current one. The result? They end up doing both half-assed and forget that their new value is as a manager who can amplify the efforts of their team.

If fear is holding you back, you need to do a few things:

  • Remember that someone doing it differently than you would do it doesn’t make it wrong
  • Realize that by not delegating, you’re showing your team you don’t trust them
  • Consider that if you don’t trust your team, you may need to evaluate if you have the right people in the right seats

Takeaways: Start setting aside time to manage your best employees, start delegating and stop taking on other people’s problems.


Remember, being a boss is a privilege.

Being a boss is an opportunity. If you believe otherwise, you may be in the wrong seat at your organization. As a boss, manager, CEO, director, team lead or whatever title you go by, you have the opportunity everyday to act as a multiplier of your team’s output. How awesome is that?!


If you feel you don’t have the tools to be successful as a boss, I highly recommend How to Be a Great Boss. It is full of actionable ideas, of which this blog only covers a fraction. 

Have other tips on how to be a great boss? Please share with me in the comments below!