Handshake and teamworkToday’s post is the second in my five-part series that examines the best practices of GREAT bosses.

Are you a great boss to your employees? A great boss is a person who creates and maintains a safe, inspiring work environment where talented, engaged employees THRIVE.

Great bosses create clear performance standards and clear values standards and hold everyone (including themselves) accountable for both each day.

In these work environments, employees perform better (40% or more better), serve customers better (40% or more better), and produce higher profits (30% or more higher). Last week I looked at how GREAT bosses inspire growth; today, I share how they honor relationships.

Great bosses know that positive relationships based on shared values create mutual trust and respect in the workplace. They create and maintain positive relationships with team members and expect the same among team members.

Great bosses know that without mutual trust & respect, workplace cooperation disappears. They realize that they must effectively manage employees’ heads, hands, AND hearts. Most leaders are satisfied with managing employees’ hands (getting stuff done) and sometimes their heads (explaining strategy & goals).

Many employees spend more time at work than they do with their family or friends. Great bosses act to maintain a safe, inspiring workplace so employees feel honored at work.

Great bosses also understand that trust & respect is a fragile state; it must be tended & monitored daily with every player to remain healthy and vibrant.

Here are a few ways that great bosses I’ve observed and studied honored relationships with their team members.

Create values standards. Great bosses don’t stop at setting high performance standards. They create clear values standards, as well. Since managing employee attitudes is difficult (attitudes are primarily intrinsically driven), great bosses define values in behavioral terms. This creates clarity on how a good corporate citizen behaves and enables values to be observable, tangible, and measurable. Employees know exactly what’s expected of them when, for example, integrity means one demonstrates behaviors such as “I don’t lie, cheat, or steal” or “I keep my commitments.” When bosses and team members demonstrate these behaviors, relationships bloom.

Demand civility & encourage validation. Nothing erodes workplace safety and inspiration more than personal bickering, dismissiveness, or bullying – from boss or team members! Great bosses demand civility by ensuring valued behaviors are demonstrated in every interaction. When civility is firmly embedded in the work environment, great bosses push for validation – honoring others’ efforts and ideas regularly. Note that high performing, values aligned teams debate (sometimes loudly) ideas & solutions often but they never discount a team member or their boss. Civility builds relationships.

Appreciate personal lives and passions. Great bosses genuinely appreciate each team member’s unique contributions and passions outside of the workplace. Great bosses know & ask about personal and family events, milestones, and celebrations. For example, one great boss of mine asked the team if we’d support one member’s soccer coaching responsibility every Thursday afternoon. We did! For two months, this team member left at 3pm on soccer days – but they managed their workload, came in early and never missed a deadline during the season.

Demonstrate “tough love.” Great bosses don’t let themselves or team members “off the hook” for meeting goal commitments. Everyone must maintain their contributions to team success – or the whole organization suffers. Where able, great bosses and team members refine the plan to deal with unexpected circumstances. AND, team commitments are kept, day in and day out.

Contribute your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below. In what ways have your great bosses honored relationships? How did they create strong personal connections that inspired mutual trust?

What is it like to live in your organization’s culture? Share your experiences in my fast & free Performance-Values Assessment. Results and analysis are described on my blog site’s research page.

This research can help you refine your organization’s corporate culture. Contact me to discuss conducting the Performance-Values Assessment in your company.

Photo © istockphoto.com/yuri_arcurs. All rights reserved.

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The music heard on these podcasts is from one of Chris’ songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). Chris plays all instruments on these recordings.

S. Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds

Chris helps leaders create purposeful, positive, productive work cultures. He's a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He blogs, podcasts, and video casts. He is the author of The Culture Engine and six other books.
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