BOSSES WE LOVE: It's easy to complain about your manager, but do you ever stop to consider the alternatives? Click on to read about eight kinds of bosses who deserve a little credit for doing something right. Maybe you'll even find your boss described here.
The Boss Who Listens: What's worse than a manager who continues reading his e-mail while listening to your question, interjecting "uh-hmm, yes" at regular intervals, as though he's paying attention—and then suddenly turns to face you and asks peevishly: "What were you saying?" A manager who listens to his employees is a boss to be thankful for. The manager who pays attention, who reflects on what you said Tuesday, comes back with intelligent observations on Wednesday, and remembers what you've told him from one meeting to the next may not be one in a million, but he's at least one in a hundred. Next time your manager tunes into your wavelength, take a cue from every kindergarten teacher in the country and say: "Thanks for listening!"
The Boss Who Shares: It's hard to tell whether uncommunicative managers don't realize—or just don't care—that you need certain pieces of information to do your job. It's hard to fathom why a manager would walk around with critical data and not share them with you until you've wasted weeks of effort on a project that ends up canceled. "Oh, yeah, I meant to tell you about that" is cold comfort, but the silver lining is this: Once you work for a boss who doesn't share information, you'll never fail to appreciate one who does. The boss who promptly and completely fills you in on what you need to know is a gift to be treasured. You might have to beg for some things at work (extra vacation time or a real office), but you shouldn't have to plead for the information you need to do your job.
The Boss Who Decides: When you took the job working for Jim, you thought: "He's so nice and easygoing." Six weeks later, the veil has been lifted and the awful truth emerges: Jim is so nice that he couldn't make a decision if his life depended on it. A doormat boss who won't make a tough call inflicts a special kind of torture on his team members. Let's appreciate the boss who decides and moves on—sometimes with less consensus-building than we might wish for, but we can live with that. At the end of the day, a boss who's not afraid to make decisions can be a very good person to work for.
The Boss Who Notices: It's 7:16 p.m, you're waiting for the commuter train to pull into the station and take you home after a frustrating day, and your cell phone rings. Looking down at the screen, you see your boss' number on the caller ID. "Oh, not now, I'm exhausted," you think as you answer. Then you hear her say, "Jake? I just wanted to say that you did a great job with the sales analysis today. I'm looking at it now—what a huge help. Thanks so much." O.K., you think as you hang up and board the train, I guess I can stand a little end-of-the-day recognition. It's easy to overlook and take for granted the boss who notices your special efforts and accomplishments. It's a wonderful thing to work for someone who takes the time to say thanks and to let you know when you've made a difference on the job. Too many managers take late nights at work and nose-to-the-grindstone weekends for granted, so we should appreciate the boss who notices commitment and will say so.
The Boss Who Coaches: You don't pretend to know everything about every aspect of your job—who does? The worst bosses take the smallest missteps and paints them as catastrophes. The best managers treat mistakes as opportunities to coach their employees. They don't do it by blustering and threatening and wondering aloud why they hired you in the first place. They do it by asking questions to understand what went wrong and brainstorming with you to avoid the problem next time. You come away from a managerial coaching session feeling as though you've learned something important. Almost makes you forget the gaffe ever happened. Great managers believe in one-on-one coaching and make a habit of it. It's a pleasure to work for someone whose investment in your development shows so clearly.
The Boss Who Stands Up: It's not that you want your boss to go to bat for you on every little issue, but you'd like to think that when the stakes are high, your boss will support your causes. Great managers don't hesitate to carry the flag for the team when the ideas are sound, regardless of the political headaches involved. Once you've had a boss fight for the right answer, it's hard to work for the too politically aware manager whose allegiance to No. 1 is abundantly apparent. A boss who fights for what's right on the job deserves thanks, and not just in November.
The Boss Who Tells the Truth: One of the hardest parts of managing is delivering bad news, which is why so many bosses simply won't do it. They beat around the bush and drop heavy hints until their staff members go crazy. They let you intuit the bad news on your own. Instead of acknowledging upcoming budget cuts again, they'll say: "Umm, I'm not sure, but let's push off that new branding campaign until spring." Just give us the news, already! Be thankful for the boss who tells you what's going on, even when the news is bad. A spoonful of sugar won't help the worst medicine go down, but a plainspoken boss who deals forthrightly with adversity and opens the door for productive conversation is a boss we'd all love to have.
The Boss Who Has a Life: Which boss is more worthy of our thanks than the one who works hard, loves his job, and then goes home and puts the job aside? A boss with a life serves as a role model for the next generation of managers as well as a gift to the time-pressed workers of this generation who like to think they can have professional success without giving up every shred of personal fulfillment in the deal. Let's give thanks to the manager who knows how to deliver value to his employer and support his team, and know when to turn it off and enjoy a football game or a night at the opera. A boss with a life sends the message that it's O.K. for team members to have lives of their own, too. With some of the prize turkey managers we've seen over the years, the manager with a job and a life and apologies for neither is a boss to appreciate—the sooner, the better.