Ten New Year's resolutions for being a better boss

Want to be a better line manager? Here are ten ways to get the most out of your employees in the New Year.

by Cary Cooper
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Let individuals know when they’re doing a good job. Most bosses don’t tell employees when they do a good job; it’s usually only when it’s a fantastic job. However, praise when it’s deserved is critical as it’s a big motivator and drives productivity. 

Listen to the people you manage. Bosses usually talk to, rather than listen to employees.  However, it’s only when individuals are properly listened to that they feel valued, engaged and are ultimately more productive. 

Try to avoid fault-finding. Give constructive feedback. We all make mistakes and if you go down the ‘blame route’ it will really knock an individual’s confidence.  Offer constructive feedback that will have the right kind of impact.  

Provide opportunities that stretch individuals. Employees don’t want to do the same thing over and over again as it can be boring and de-motivating. Moreover, when people are given greater responsibility at work they feel trusted and valued, which helps to empower them and feel confident in their roles. 

Create team-building opportunities. We lead such frenetic lives and work long hours so it’s vital that we are given experiences to bond with colleagues. Team building helps to create a more cohesive and happy workforce. 

Don’t pitch one employee against another. Many employers do this thinking it will enhance performance, however it only ends up creating competition, lack of communication and even potential for sabotage. Many people are feeling insecure about their jobs in the current climate, so trust that they will be working hard anyway; you don’t necessarily need to add competition to the mix. 

Create an open door policy. As a boss, you can't be everyone's best friend but by being approachable and accessible, you can encourage staff to come to you with ideas - and gripes, admittedly. Both however, give you a better perspective on your team and the business as a whole.

Create a good work / life balance. Don’t create a long hours culture. The overwhelming evidence shows that if people regularly work long hours this negatively affects their health and they become far less productive as a result.  

Allow your employees to work more flexibly. Don’t micro-manage individuals by only allowing them to work in the office environment. Letting them do their jobs in their own way will create trust and improve performance. 

Be kind and supportive. The more supportive you are the better and, remember, the people you line manage might pass you in the hierarchy one day. 


Cary Cooper is professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School. 

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