I’ve worked for many different bosses throughout my career and have had my share of bad managers and good managers. But what turns a good boss into a great boss? In my humble opinion it’s the ability to say these four words – “Good job. Thank you.”
Those simple four words can sometimes mean more to an employee than a bonus, or even a raise. Okay, well, let’s be honest, of course we all love bonuses and raises and perks. But that’s not necessarily what’s going to make us happy at work. I think I could stand to be pretty miserable at work if I was getting paid a million dollars, but I guarantee at some point I’d probably snap. On the other hand, very early in my career I had a job where I made barely more than minimum wage and I was happier in that job than I was in subsequent jobs where I made significantly more money.
Why do I cherish the memories of that barely-more-than-minimum-wage job? Because I had a great boss. He recognized the value that employees bring to the organization. He realized employees aren’t just cogs in the wheel. They are the heart and soul of the business and, when treated well, would in turn be proud of the job they were doing. He was smart enough to know that happy employees equals good business. And by good business, I mean, business would be good.
This boss said those magical words on a regular basis. There were simple passes in the hallway, “Great news report this morning, Suzanne!” There were thank you emails after big company events thanking ALL employees for a job well done. And not just a blanket thank you. This boss took the time to address each person’s contribution individually in the thank you letter. And then there was just the genuine interest this boss took in all his employees. No small talk here. He asked real questions and was interested in the response.
No matter what, there was always recognition. Recognition that while this “big boss” was running the show, he always let his employees know he valued their contribution to the bottom line, no matter how small the job was.
My career has been dotted with bad bosses too. There was the boss who no matter what you did, no matter how excited you were about an accomplishment or reaching a goal, she couldn’t bring herself to say “good job.” Good news and accomplishments from employees were usually met with a, “Well that’s nice but we still need to do XYZ.”
After one recent project my team was brimming with pride and went to see the boss. Smiling and giddy with excitement we entered her office. “Hey, boss, we created a great promotion and managed to blow that goal out of the water! Isn’t that wonderful?!” Her response? A curt, “okay” without even looking up from her desk. Talk about feeling deflated. Our excitement level went from 100 to zero in less than a second. I began looking for a new job the next day.
Even though I’m not a “boss” I still try to practice what that first great boss of mine taught me and it can be applied to all areas of your life, not just your job. Never underestimate the power of a simple “Good job. Thank you.”