Have you just hired your first employee? Kimberly Yorio and Caitlin Friedman, authors of the book The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business: Candid Advice, Frank Talk, and True Stories for the Successful Entrepreneurshares some tips on how to be an effective new boss.
1. Be on time every day.
It’s your business. Lead by example.
2. Don’t make a habit of leaving early.
Your employees will resent you if you walk out the door at three and call them from the gym at five-thirty to check in.
3. Don’t go drinking with your assistant.
Or swap stories. Again, you’re the adult now. You need to set the example. What you do in your private time away from the office should remain fodder for your peers, not your subordinates. Even when you’re dying to tell someone about last night’s disastrous date, resist the urge.
4. Don’t ask them to do anything that is not work-related.
It’s rude and fosters resentment. This includes walking your dog, picking up your dry cleaning, and buying your personal holiday presents, unless, of course, the job is personal assistant.
5. Don’t let them hear you on personal calls.
Again, you are the adult. Not only will they will imitate you for months if they hear you refer to your husband as “Dr. Love,” they will feel entitled to be on their own calls all day.
6. You are not their friend.
Be a pleasant boss, but never leave the door open to talk about the dating drama. You will want your employee to feel comfortable talking to you about serious personal problems (especially if they will impact her job performance); a sick mother or child-care problem, for example. But the last thing you can afford is to become a surrogate therapist for employee dating or marital woes.
7. Pitch in when you can.
If you have assigned what you know to be a tedious task, such as mailing five hundred company brochures, spend at least a few minutes pitching in. This is your team; make it happen together. A little willingness to get your hands dirty will go a long way when you need a really big ditch dug.
8. Do not share company financial issues or problems.
If your employees suspect things are not going well, they will be looking for another job before you know it. There is a whole philosophy of open-book management that works in big public companies (the law requires it, anyway), but in small companies you don’t need your employees second-guessing your decisions.
9. If something goes wrong with a client or customer, you have to take the blame.
As the boss, you are responsible for everything running smoothly. If you have a problem employee, you need to monitor her closely, provide more training, or let her go. You cannot make bad employees the scapegoats for mistakes.
10. Manage, but don’t smother.
Granted this is your business and you’ve got the most to lose, but you’ve got to let your employees take responsibility for their workload. Guide, cajole, pester — don’t suffocate.