By Pierra Calasanz-Labrador for Yahoo! Southeast Asia
The number one reason people quit their job? "It all boils down to disrespect, towards them or their work," says HR manager/consultant Jennifer Joson-Virginio, who has stood guard at the employees' revolving door of publishing and IT companies for nearly a decade now.
It's unfortunate to have talent go to waste, only to see them excel elsewhere under better management. Want to know how to inspire loyalty, bring out the best, and maintain a good working relationship with your staff? Ms. Virginio gives us the top tips on being a great boss.
Walk the talk
Be the kind of boss that people aim to please and emulate, by leading by example, and exhibiting exactly the kind of behavior you expect from your own staff. "The best real-life boss I've ever come across with was the country head of one of the IT companies I joined. He walked his talk. His secret, I believe, is simply put in his own words … 'I don't shortchange my people.' To me those words are brilliant, genuine, and true," says Virginio.
"You can't—and should not aim to—please everyone, but you make them know that you think things through. By this principle, your demeanor and decisions are guided by truth, fairness, and respect. With these, people tend to just gravitate towards you … and as a bonus, do your 'bidding,' whether it be a request or a mandate."
Be fair but firm
Cultivate an open, honest, and fair environment where people can operate in mutual respect instead of fear. An employee's resentment can stem from not being heard out, being wrongly accused, or being punished much too harshly. It's important to lay down the law clearly, and when rules are broken, to judge the situation before meting out the appropriate, logical penalty.
Don't be a monster boss and fly into a rage at the slightest provocation; likewise, don't be a pushover and shirk from keeping your staff in line for fear that they'll no longer find you cool. Establish respect by being firm, fair, and yes, true to your word.
Keep the peace
Being a boss also means managing different personalities, and there are times you need to step in as a referee to keep the working environment harmonious and productive. When it comes to handling conflict between subordinates, Virginio suggests, "Always seek to resolve, and you can only do this when you are calm. Be fair and be patient.
Some tips: Before sitting them down, make sure you know the issue. Identify a root cause, and tell them about it (know that you may not always be right though, and if so, consult others). Make a plan of action (involve them when possible) and be extra firm, then check if it is being followed through."
Leadership is not a dictatorship
If you're wondering why the new recruits never survive your iron-fisted ways, perhaps it's time to update your management tactics. Says Virginio, "Autocracy is outdated. It is not only obsolete, I consider it obscene! The younger generation wants to be led towards a vision, and they are best steered by someone who can make them focus on what they can bring to the table, and make them feel that they actually did." Which leads us to…
Motivate, not humiliate
As important as it is for your staff to believe in you, you must also believe in them. Virginio attests, "By sincerely believing in your people, and being involved in their development, you bring out the best in them. Cheesy, but true." Being able to pinpoint your team's individual talents and orchestrating them efficiently under keen yet non-overbearing supervision can bring amazing, satisfying results. Publicly censuring them when they don't attain their goals is a sure-fire way to send any self-respecting employee packing.
It's no longer a surprise to see women at the top of the corporate ladder, though even in this modern day and age, sexist stereotypes still prevail. Blow them out of the water by commanding respect right from the get-go! Since appearances are the first things people notice, dress the part—be smartly-groomed and sophisticated, but not too fussy. Invest in good skincare and fashion for an extra boost of confidence; after all, there's nothing quite as formidable as a stunning, successful woman.
Like A Boss
Brilliance alone doesn't make you boss material. For Virginio, it all boils down to integrity and good judgment. "A good boss should have the following qualities: 1. The ability to balance respect and goodwill with business. 2. A high sense of duty and regard for continuous improvement. 3. He/she should be a visionary or someone whom people can believe in. 4. Patience and persistence. As captain, you steer, and during a crisis, you are last to abandon ship."
Yes, that means getting down in the trenches with your staff during crunchtime—not texting your overtime commands from your seaside cabana. Virginio's professional advice to being a better boss? "First, lead because you believe you can all help to reach a common vision; then be kind, because you are sincere."
Pierra C. Labrador is a freelance writer, editor, stylist, and co-founder of the Philippine's new virtual styling site miss-match.com.ph. She's worked for the top Philippine fashion and travel glossies for over ten years, and recently co-authored the Enjoy Philippines Manila Travel Guide.