Learning to Be a Boss

Posted October 16, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

We told you recently “Why Female Bosses Matter,” and we believe wholeheartedly that they do. We gave advice to the female boss and her employees on how to maximize this kind of relationship. And somewhere in the course of writing that article, I realized….I needed to take my own advice.

I’ve worked in management roles for multiple companies, but somehow manged to avoid for all of my career actually being a manager. I supervised a wonderful pool of interns throughout my career, but have never actually been in charge of hiring, firing, mentoring, and performance reviews….until now. And today, with just one (wonderful and amazing as she is) employee at Career Girl Network, I’m learning for the first time (slowly) to be a…..gulp…..boss. I didn’t realize it until Marcy Farrey referred to me in a Facebook post as her boss, and I thought, “Oh my god! I’m a boss!”

So I’ve entered into a true learning experience here, one that could affect my leadership style forever. I’m learning, intentionally, how to be not just a boss…but a great boss. I’m asking questions of other great bosses, reading everything I can about hiring and managing employees (the universe will hopefully smile on us and bring more employees to CGN soon!) Here’s what I’m implementing so far:

  • Say what you’re doing. I’m realizing that I do a lot of things in being the CEO of Career Girl Network that, in my head, I think an employee might think are boring or unimportant. But maybe they are not. So I’ve made an effort to talk more about the boring stuff – web analytics, competitor strategies, how I’m thinking about 2013. If even half of it is of interest to a staff member, and she expresses interest, it may mean a meaningful project for both of us.
  • Say thank you. As I look back on my worst bosses (and I’ve had a few doozies), I realize that the common thread was a lack of gratitude for hard work and dedication to going above and beyond the call of duty. I want to be the kind of boss who always appreciates her staff, and continually thanks them for the awesome work they do.
  • Don’t trust, but verify. Just trust. I’ve always been someone who checks in, checks up, and verifies that something is done. But I’m realizing that in order to believe in your staff and let them grow, you must just trust. If a staff member falters, you’ll deal with it then. But looking over their shoulders won’t help them feel autonomous, develop ideas, and ultimately grow both themselves and the business you run.
  • Hire dedicated people, and evaluate their dedication, not their hours or face time. Part of running a start-up is recognizing that my hours are irregular and my staff’s hours will be, too. I’m happy for people to work from home, from the office, from a coffee shop. I will never – not now, not ever – judge someone based on the time they arrive or leave. I will judge based on dedication and excitement, because it’s only when those two things wane that employees will be ready to leave.

I’m still learning to be a boss. I’m sure everyone who manages people is always learning. But it starts with a dedication to wanting to be not only good at your job, but good at leadership and management as well. Only that dedication to your staff will breed dedication in your staff.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."