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Gary Cattermole

The Survey Initiative


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Ten ways to be a great boss


According to Gary Cattermole great bosses are not born great, they become great. Here he gives his top 10 tips for becoming an effective leader:

Be clear about your vision for the business

Without direction, it is easy to get lost. Tell your team what it is you are trying to achieve and how you believe it will come about. Be clear about what you expect from your workforce – what qualities you respect and how you reward good effort. By giving clear direction there will be no room for ambiguity - everyone will know their role in the company, what is expected of them and what they are working towards.

Reward good performance

Without reward, there is no incentive to pursue success. We all need to be recognised for the work we do and those of us who are rewarded for a job well done are far more likely to continue to seek self-improvement than those who feel ignored. We are also more likely to feel an allegiance to those who reward us, meaning we’ll be less likely to move elsewhere.

Stick to your guns

There is nothing worse than being let down by someone and your workforce will feel no allegiance to you if you don’t live up to your word. If you say you will introduce extended break times, then do it. If you say you will discipline staff for certain behaviours, then do it. If your workforce doesn’t trust you, they won’t respect you and you’ll fail to get the best out of them.

Lead by example

This may seem obvious but think about how your actions affect your workforce. If you don’t keep regular hours or fail to follow your own set of rules, you’ll lose respect. Nobody likes to think they are working for a dictator so be involved in your business and pull your weight with the rest of them – keep your end of the deal and deliver to your best ability.

Be present

Make sure you are known to everyone who works for you from the chairman to the accounts clerk and the financial controller to the factory floor. If you are not ‘present’ in the business, your workforce will begin to wonder where your priorities lie. Similarly, if you seem to place more importance on communicating with your management team than the people on the ground, you will create an unhealthy divide. Make it your business to know your staff by name and take regular walking tours of your premises to be seen and to stop and talk to those who work for you – your staff cannot relate on a personal level to a nameplate on a closed door.

Don’t try to be everyone’s ‘pal’ 

It’s most certainly a balancing act – being friendly but not overly friendly. Being a good boss requires putting a certain amount of distance between you and your staff. It’s about gaining respect above friendships. It is simply not possible to be everyone’s friend and being ‘one of the gang’ can backfire when you need to assert your authority. By all means inject your personality into the business but first and foremost be a boss - that’s your role.

Be fair

Do not tolerate negative behaviour of any kind such as harassment or bullying - stamp it out quickly. Be sure to recognise and reward positive influences and be seen to do the right thing at all times.

Invest in your people

Give your people what they want (within reason obviously). If you undertake regular staff surveys or gather staff opinion in appraisals, be certain that you provide a few of the more reasonable requests that are made. Could you provide free fruit? Could you look into taking your staff on an away day if they meet their quarterly targets? Perhaps you could put hand dryers in the toilets rather than paper towels or provide somewhere for staff to sit during break times? By giving a little something extra back, you are more likely to get a little something extra in return.

Create the right atmosphere

Think about how your premises appear to both your customers and your staff. Are there stains on the sofas in your waiting area? Are your offices cleaned regularly? Is the kitchen kept clean and tidy? Is there adequate lighting? If appropriate, can staff have music to listen to? If you create the right environment you will attract the right kind of people. Similarly, if you take pride in your surroundings, your staff are more likely to. By making the workplace an attractive place to be, you’re more likely to keep hold of staff, saving you time and money on recruitment and training.

Think outside the box

Don’t be afraid to encourage imagination and initiative and be sure to maintain a no blame culture. Encourage your team from the top down to see mistakes as stepping stones to success. Introduce forums for discussions about new ideas and really listen to those who take the time to use their imagination. Ultimately, if you never do anything different, you’ll never achieve anything different.

Gary Cattermole is co-founder and director of The Survey Initiative

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Gary Cattermole


Read more from Gary Cattermole

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