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Good boss versus bad boss: What does it mean for you?

Woman with steam coming out her ears

Not all bosses are created equal, but what's the difference between a good boss and a bad one?

Contrast could not be starker: Working for a bad boss can negatively affect every part of your life. Working for a good boss can change your life in positive ways, forever.

So, what makes a good boss and what makes a bad boss? What are the signs to look out for? And what kind of impact can they have on you both professionally and personally?

There’s actually plenty of research into this area — as the sales volume of management books attest. Let’s break it down.

What makes a good boss?

  1. A good boss is a good listener. We’ve all worked for people with a tin ear. Bosses who don’t listen leave behind staff who feel undervalued and unappreciated and they miss out completely on potential improvements, opportunities and efficiencies that might be identified by their team. Their staff suffers and so does the business. A good boss listens to what their team members have to say. A truly great boss keeps their ear to the ground, starts conversations, and identifies and solves issues before they arise.
  2. A good boss works efficiently. Nothing builds resentment quite like a boss who “phones it in” — someone who’s never around when there’s work to be done but is at the front of the queue when it’s time to take credit. A good boss will be focussed on ensuring both they and their team work as efficiently and effectively as possible, and rolls up their sleeves and gets stuck in with the rest of the crew. A good boss makes sure no one on their team is overloaded or struggling.
  3. A good boss nurtures their team. Encouraging each team member and allowing them to flourish is the fast track to ensuring a happy and productive team. A great boss knows each team member’s strengths and weaknesses — and helps them to strengthen those weaknesses while giving them responsibilities and opportunities that play to their strengths and special interests.
  4. A good boss offers praise and recognition. All too often praise and recognition of good work never comes. It’s not hard to say thank you. It’s not hard to say “you did a good job today” or “we could never have done this without you”. A great boss ensures every team member knows they’re valued. That recognition comes in many forms: from a word of thanks or a gift or bonus to a pay rise or promotion.
  5. A good boss is respected. It’s astounding how many bosses let their professionalism slip. We’ve all heard stories about drunken bosses at office Christmas parties, for example, or bosses who routinely go for long lunches and never return to the office despite important work piling up in their inbox. A good boss is someone who is respected by their team and to achieve that means remaining professional and focussed at all times.

What makes a bad boss?

A bad boss is really any boss who falls down in any of the areas above. They’re a person who doesn’t engender the respect of their team. You’re not a leader if no one is following. Bosses who create environments where communication between staff and management is not encouraged – who don’t foster their team and nurture each member’s talents and interests – create an atmosphere of resentment in the workplace. Employees will begin to look at the boss as the enemy — productivity will slump, output quality will be low, staff turnover will be high.

Similarly, a boss who lacks drive and vision themselves — someone who doesn’t really seem interested in doing the job — will create a negative atmosphere in the workplace and the entire team (and the business) will suffer. It’s only natural that employees will become frustrated and will seek opportunities elsewhere, where their skills and experience will be appreciated and where they can work for someone who inspires them.

What is the effect of a good boss versus a bad boss?

Believe it or not, the effect a good boss has on an enterprise versus a bad boss has been measured and studied. One study found the difference between the best bosses and worst bosses on productivity is significant. “Replacing a boss who is in the lower tenth percentile of boss quality with one who is at the ninetieth percentile increases a team’s total output by about the same amount as adding another worker to a nine-member team,” the study said.

But the effects of a good or bad boss go well beyond the workplace, too. A genuinely good boss can inspire. Their influence on an employee can see them flourish and go on to succeed in ways they could never have dreamed possible.

Which kind of boss would you prefer to have, or like to be?

If you’re looking for a new boss, contact the team at Mining People International. Our consultants can help you find the perfect new role for you in the mining industry.