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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 June 2007, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
How to be the best possible boss
Man Utd manger Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson has certainly proved his managerial abilities
Setting up your own company will hopefully mean that you soon employ a growing number of staff.

But having a good business idea does not automatically mean that you will be also be a good boss.

How do you best ensure you are a good manager who can properly motivate your staff?

QUESTION
Martin Skelton, London, UK.
I have recently set up my own computer company.

I currently have two employees, but intend to expand my workforce as the business grows.

My question is: how can I best ensure I am a good manager? I am very driven and determined to make this business a success.

However, as a result I am concerned that I may be too harsh and unreasonably demanding of my staff.

Yet at the same time I don't want my employees to think they can take advantage of me and be lazy.

How do I best tread a middle line and also evaluate my management skills?

ANSWER
Nigel Nicholson, London Business School
I understand your concerns, but they are born of your insecurity.

This will pass, but more easily if you change your way of thinking about yourself and what it means to be a manager.

A manager's job is to liberate, develop and use the talents of the people who report to him or her
Firstly, your drive for success and concern about being a good manager are a great platform for development.

However, your idea of managing is immediately tainted by your assumptions about hierarchy - that bosses have to be demanding to overcome the natural laziness of people below them.

Is that how the world looked to you when you have been reporting to someone? Almost certainly not.

It is a fear of loss of control that comes to people inexperienced with having authority over others.

Liberate and develop

Try this instead. People want be well-regarded and useful pretty much everywhere.

We all want to make a difference and for this to be recognised. We want to be treated with dignity.

But If we find we are working for a boss who assumes we're naturally lazy and inclined to "take advantage" it makes us resentful.

Have you noticed how many sullen and resentful people there are in organisations? They were made that way by bad bosses.

So change your view. A manager's job is to liberate, develop and use the talents of the people who report to him or her.

The job of your staff is to serve or deliver excellence to your clients or customers.

Your job is to be the chief servant of your organisation - helping your staff to delight your consumers.

Empower and trust

Your role needs to change over time with your employees.

When they are unskilled and low in relevant knowledge you need to be directive - setting goals and prescribing methods, but in a consultative manner.

You quickly move into a coaching model - helping them to learn what they need to know, all the time with the aim of becoming more empowering and trusting.

You soon should reach the point where you can set the goals and they don't need to be told how to do it.

This involves a measure of trust, and risk - that things will go wrong as surely they will go right from time to time.

All the time keep this in a positive frame - i.e. around learning and development.

Maintain a ratio of positive feedback to negative/advisory of not less than four to one.

Show people you respect them, and that work is something to be enjoyed.

Make feedback two-way - the most important conversation you can have is for each of you to ask the other: "What could I do differently that would help you do your job better?"

Good luck and enjoy.


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