Being a great boss is about more than money

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This article appeared in the March 2014 issue of CRN magazine.

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Being a great boss is about more than money

Once upon a time, good managers were expected to just provide employees with perks and generous pay packets. But the world has changed. Employees these days want more than just money; they want work that’s meaningful, that makes a difference. These days, companies need to work out ways of keeping staff without breaking the bank. 

Smart companies set up systems that generate ideas. At the best companies, managers regularly talk to employees about their ideas. Too hard to do it in the office? Go to a nearby coffee shop instead. It shows your employees you think their insights are valued. This engages employees and makes them feel they are part of the business.

Another important tool is to set goals and measure them. Talk to every employee about why they want to come in to work every day. Get into what they actually do and find out what their goals are. Then break this up into quarterly and monthly goals.

To do that, resellers have to get to the emotional core of what each employee is doing. For example, salespeople do more than just sell the product: they put together visuals and presentations that wow customers and win them over. The consultant works with clients and creates links between the reseller and their business. A receptionist doesn’t just answer the phones: he or she is the public face of the company. All this must be monitored. Regular feedback is critical to success.

Face-to-face contact works best. Good leaders do not hide behind emails. While some emailing is inevitable, the best way to reach out to employees and motivate them is face to face. If that means travelling from one city to the next, so be it. You can never do enough face-to-face communication with people. So many things get out of control and miscommunicated if you rely on paper and email. Management specialists say that face-to-face communication is 10 times more productive and more influential than email or written communication.

The right direction

Good companies encourage entrepreneurialism among employees. Getting employees to act like entrepreneurs within the larger organisation and have them devoting time to specific projects also creates greater staff engagement. Great companies have done that. 

Great companies also have policies  that allow their people to make mistakes. Targeting people who make mistakes is the worst thing you could do. When things go wrong, the company should analyse what happened and see how to improve it. Innovation requires a long-term willingness to experiment and experimentation involves some risks.

Keep the organisational structure as flat as possible. The good boss should keep it to direct reports, supervisors and people on the shop floor. Managers are responsible for their own people. It’s the manager’s people, he has to look after them. It can’t be delegated. Also, if you involve everyone in what’s going on, they feel like a partner.

Such are the basics of what’s required. All common sense, easy enough to implement and, most importantly, it will not break the bank. It just takes goodwill from the boss to create it. 


Training is a good investment for recruitment and retention.

Most training in companies is done by giving employees challenging assignments. The key is to make it experiential. Mentoring is important too.

Resellers need to make sure the trainees are willing and motivated to learn. They can best do this by ensuring that the training is connected to the employee’s career ambitions.

Training is an ongoing process. Best practice is to provide recurring refresher courses and cross-training opportunities for existing employees and comprehensive starter training for new hires. And to make it permanent, it should be incorporated in the annual performance appraisal.

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