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Oct 15, 201901:20 PMOpen Mic

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Use Boss’s Day to create better relationships

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Oct. 16 is National Boss’s Day, and you can hold the doughnuts.

The opportunity with Boss’s Day is much more important than simply bringing your boss a cup of coffee or bringing your employees doughnuts.

Fifty-three percent of Americans are currently unhappy at work and close to 80 percent of employees report leaving their workplace due to lack of appreciation. With millennials now making up 50% of the workforce, and demanding a different type of workplace culture, it’s time for companies to choose another way of doing business.

You may have heard the saying, “People quit their bosses, not their jobs,” and while it’s true that 50 percent of people report having quit because they couldn’t “tolerate their boss,” recent studies show that a key factor driving people to leave is a lack of appreciation.

Among millennials, the top reason for leaving is lack of culture.

What bosses can do

Knowing that people quit bosses and not jobs, a boss might wonder, “What can I do to become more likable?” The answer is not more doughnuts.

Even if your employees don’t agree with your every decision or wouldn’t choose to be best buds and vacation together, they are likely to feel greater support and stay on board when you create an environment that they can get behind.

Here are three key things that workers today are looking for in their relationships with bosses.

Workers want leaders who LISTEN

When is the last time that you posed a new idea, policy, or strategy in a brainstorming session with your team or in a one-on-one meeting with an employee, and asked for their input? If you can’t remember, then you likely are not listening enough. Listening when team members approach you is also not enough. Being a good listener means that you’re cultivating opportunities for your team to share input. Inviting your employees to curate or dream with you creates greater buy-in on their part. Team members are more likely to believe in and get behind something that they helped create, and with many organizations struggling with low employee engagement, inviting team members to share their input is a great way to both boost engagement while also listening to staff.

If you are concerned about opening up a brainstorming session that may lead to feedback that you don’t quite want to hear or may not choose to implement in the end, here’s a simple strategy to guide better collaboration and communication without losing control in the process.

Create a framework for open brainstorming time. Let your team members know ahead of time about the meeting. There is nothing worse than popping into their office unannounced and launching into a 45-minute brainstorming session that they didn’t know was coming and when they had other priorities for the day.

Set a team meeting. Explain that there will be a window of time for which all ideas can go on the board. During this time, no ideas will be tossed out. It’s important to create a supportive environment where there are no wrong answers and everyone is encouraged to share.  Establish what the process will be from there. You can say that from there, you’ll take all the ideas and distill them down and report back the following week for the next phase, or that you’ll take ideas to management, or another method. You could follow a process of elimination together with the team at that point, distilling the ideas down and shaping them into a final result that is a win-win for all parties involved. This process is likely to have much greater buy-in compared to you mapping out the idea yourself and sending it off to someone’s inbox as a new policy.

It could ultimately be the same exact idea, but because it was arrived at collectively it will yield a different feeling around it, not to mention a different end result. More often than not, by engaging your team the end result will actually be better!

Sometimes as bosses, we get stuck in the bubble of our own heads. Lean on your team and ask for their input. Listen to them. They want to be heard. They want to help. They want to grow and thrive. You’ll become a better boss just by listening more.


Stunningly, 65 percent of Americans state that they weren’t recognized even one time over the last year in their role.

It’s an outdated mentality to think that it’s enough for workers today to simply receive a paycheck and be happy with that. On average, workers change jobs every 2.2 years, and millennials change jobs at half that rate.

Regardless of whether your team member is going to stay on long term or not, one thing is known: 60 percent say they are motivated more by recognition than money, and we know that employees who feel motivated and appreciated are far more productive.

Appreciation is about the person who is receiving. Seek to understand how each of your employees best receives appreciation.

One way that we do this at Strategic Partners as a small team is seeking to understand each individual’s preferences throughout the employee relationship, from hiring to onboarding. As a boss, I seek to understand what each worker most values. I ask them directly if they were to earn a reward would they prefer a cash bonus, time off, company-sponsored training, or something else.

Ask your employees how they want to be shown appreciation.

In addition, small things count. Think of your own experiences as a worker. Who were some of your favorite past managers or bosses? What made them your favorite? Likely, they took time to provide feedback, support your growth, and likely, they also made you feel supported by celebrating your wins. Something as simple as a verbal mention during team meetings when a team member has a success can go a long way.

At SP, we have a #wins channel in Slack, a team communication tool, where we can each report our own wins, as well as shout out to our colleagues when we see them accomplish something. This has become a place to pat each other’s backs and give credit where credit is due. In addition, we take time at the beginning of each team meeting for each person to share a win. Often, a team member will overlook their own win, and a colleague will speak up, offering praise. These small acts are easy to do and go a long way toward making your team members feel appreciated.


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