Feb 082011

Cool Boss

As a manager I like to think of myself as a cool boss.  I do not micro-manage and I do not take a policy and procedure book and make it my bible in the work place. The Policy and Procedure or Employee handbook has things that you must follow for legal and for practical purposes, but for the most part I see it as just a baseline and benchmark of how to run your team. For example, it is usually written in a standard employee handbook that 2 weeks notice is the minimum for a request for time off. While I think it’s common courtesy to give an advance notice for a request for time off, I have seen managers scrutinize and even punish employees for making requests within 2 weeks.  I can see if it is a habitual thing or if an employee abuses my lax managerial style. If that is the case, I will say something. I believe a manager should know the difference if an employee is sincere or just trying to take advantage. I think all good managers have that skill to differentiate which persona the employee is portraying.

I believe if you take the Company’s Mission Statement, emphasize that it’s the primary goal of the company, and base your management style around that, you’re skill as a manager will fall in to place. That is the main goal anyway. If you spend too much time monitoring time off requests, lunch breaks, and tasks each employee is assigned, you will not have enough time to do the important stuff  of your job. At my work, customer service is very important to the Information Technology Department. If my users are taken care of and the websites, network, email, and computer systems are all online and available, they will remain happy and continue to work more efficiently. But technology changes almost daily. And with change, problems will arise.  My point is: The less I have to deal with personnel issues, the more time I have making sure my customers and my network is running smoothly. All this and I haven’t even read through my 300+ unread emails that I received since yesterday.  But that is another post I’ll write about at a later date.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” -Peter Drucker (1909 – 2005)

A couple weeks ago I attended a Leadership Meeting and the guest speaker talked about traits of good Leader. I found that some of the things he mentioned were very interesting and informative.

One of the things he talked about was hiring the right people. Building a strong team is more than the ability to do the tasks assigned. It’s not always about how much a person knows or how smart he/she is. The biggest thing to take in to consideration when hiring a new member of the team is that individual’s personality. How does that person interact with other people including the rest of your team? Does he/she show good customer service?

Also, you can’t expect to do everything yourself. Delegation is also a must for a good leader. I like this idea as I find myself sometimes trying to do everything because I want to make sure it is done right. A level of trust must be given to your employees. Delegate some tasks and duties to your employees. This will show that you have the confidence in your team to get the job done.

The last trait this speaker talked about is probably the most interesting of all of the things he talked about. He said a good leader is willing to take risks.  The more I think about that, the more I believe he’s right. That is how businesses have excelled. Leaders at Google have taken risks that have paid off and has built it into a multi-billion dollar company. Google went from just a small start-up internet search company to a  multi-faceted company developing all kinds of internet based apps like email, voicemail service and video content viewing.

Crazy Boss

Now these are just some traits of what a “cool” boss can be like. I can go on and on about being a cool boss. Unfortunately, there are people in the workforce that are in management and supervisor roles that are just “crazy.”  Their management styles are based on micromanagement and poor decisions. Having been a consultant at a previous employer, I was able to visit all kinds of clients all over the Bay Area and sometimes across the country. And with that experience I have see all kinds of bad bosses. One manager at a client of spent half the day criticizing his employee for a network outage that occurred. During that time, he did not do anything to try to fix the problem. Several hours went by before he decided to call for help. I was eventually dispatched to the site and it turned out that the problem was with a different department of the SAME company and not employee’s wrong doing. That’s just bad form for the manager. Soon after, the employee quit and the crazy boss lost a perfectly good resource.

This next example I’m not sure if it happens a lot, but I’ve heard this story too many times to not say anything about it. A Practice Manger at a highly respected healthcare office has what seems like a very good management style. The office revenue was always positive every month. Patients were constantly in and out of the office. From the outside, one would think it was a well run office. The truth of the matter was there was no team atmosphere. Everyone only looked out for themselves. The back office would never communicate to the front office. Double booking of patience happened too often. How does this reflect the managers’ performance? All of it does. If you were a frequent visitor of the office, you’ll notice a high turn over rate of the staff. This tells me that the workers are not happy or it means the manager is not hiring the right people as I mentioned above.

Some crazy bosses are bullies. They scream and yell at their employees to get work done. Others are insensitive to their employees. I heard from a colleague about a manager that asked one of his employees to provide a note from the mortuary to prove that he was at a funeral. Very tactless on that crazy boss’ request. Is that really necessary? I think that is just a waste of time to require that. That just my opinion. Bipolar bosses are another personality to watch out for. One minute they are congratulating you on a job well done, the next minute you are being written up for taking too long to complete the same task that you were just praised for! WTF?!?!

Also, I don’t know if it’s coincidence or a trend, but when you have crazy bosses, is there always office drama that goes on? I’m talking about constant personality clashes, back-stabbing, office affairs, and even “special privileges” for  certain management. I’m not going to get too deep because it might get me in trouble. This isn’t the gossip column of this blog. (Maybe for a later post). But how is it you get a company paid car, a condo paid for by the doctor AND you get paid close to six figures? Is it a reflection of good management skills or “ORAL presentation” skills. In my humble opinion, I think the latter!

Another Disclaimer

The examples above do not reflect any office or company I am CURRENTLY affiliated nor with any of my colleagues. Don’t ask me to divulge any information publicly about any aforementioned companies or offices. Feel free to privately ask me about them though! 🙂



  1. Sh9 says:

    Lyell, I like this blog. I too attended a leadership class recently and was asked a question of ” Would you consider yourself a supervisor who enables? ” I thought this question through long and hard to find out that, I was! Although I looked at it as ” I lead through example ” what I was actually doing is, my employee’s work as they sat and watched and got paid for it… ” muffukerz “