2 simple steps and a giant leap for boss-kind

In our early days of career, we have been taught how to handle our clients, what works/ doesn’t work in an organization, the SOP for XYZ, the process for ABC but we have never been told how to manage people and lead teams. This, we are supposed to learn by OURSELVES on the job.

Growing up the ladder means more responsibilities and therefore more work to do. Subsequently we start to RECEIVE people as teams. Hence when we become bosses, people reporting to us become our tools of getting work done. We start delegating work and expecting/ commanding it to be done. That’s how we largely look at our team – tool to get work done.

1. Here is the first simple step to be a better boss:

a.    MY team isn’t ME

One of our first mistakes is that we expect all of them to be mini replicas of us:

·     If we are passionate about a process, we expect them to feel the same wave

·     When we prioritize a certain task, we want them to place it on top of their checklist

As if all this isn’t enough, our certain personality traits are also expected to be followed. For instance, we work on our birthdays/ anniversaries, attend calls/ mails when on leave, etc. We expect the same from our team. If they don’t, then it seems they aren’t serious about their job leave aside their career!

Bosses don’t get that MY team isn’t ME. They are a different bunch of people. If we want them to experience the passion that we do in our work then we have to MAKE THEM FEEL it. We have to be in their shoes to first understand what drives them. Not everyone is you. You probably work for money or fame or passion or because you don’t know what else to do. But your team member may have altogether different set of reasons to work.

b.   Understand your team member –

Over a cup of coffee/ casual conversations –

·     Understand why does s/he work?

·     What drives him/ her?

·     What are his/ her priorities?

·     Where does s/he see herself 1/ 3 years down the line? – don’t be surprised if they do not have the answer to these questions. Ask them to think and let you know

This little investment in understanding your team member will not only be able to connect more from him/ her professionally but also personally!

c.    How to know thy team member –

·     On Monday mornings – instead of asking them to see you with their checklist or an updated gant chart of XYZ project, begin with asking how was their weekend/ what did they do?

·     On Friday afternoon/ long weekend – ask them what fun do they plan to have over the weekend?

·     Take coffee breaks with them

o  Ask them if they read a particular book or saw a recent movie

o  Which city/ school do they come from; see if you have any connect

o  Talk about some interests/ topics that you may have in common


1.    Whatever you do, please be genuine. People can see through fake emotions easily

2.    Do share your stories with them so that it looks like an equal conversation

3.    Tough thing – You may not feel engaged with the person right away, it may take some time but yes do give it a shot

2. Marrying the departmental goals to that of an individual

Then comes the next step of identifying what does your organization expect from you and your team. You should be able to break it down and share the goals amongst your team members

1.    Identify the goals and aspirations of your team members,

2.    Know their likes/ dislikes and of course their strengths/ weaknesses

3.    Divide the departmental goal into smaller goals

4.    Provide the context and show them the larger picture that they are part of

5.    Assign goals and tasks to team members basis their aspirations

6.    These goals must be specific and measurable

Let me share my experience here: One of my organizations wanted 50% incremental revenue from my department in a particular year. I knew that this revenue could not be achieved from farming existing clients. We weren’t left with a choice but to go out and get new clients. The challenge was that being a leading brand, we always had clients lined up for us and had never gone out seeking business.

I knew that 3 out of my 5 team members were extroverts and could be groomed to acquire new clients. However the issue was with the rest of the 2 who were introverts and would never make cold calls. Their strength was in research and managing relationships. I mapped the introverts to extroverts to create mini teams. The introverts and extroverts were given revenue targets and broad possible approaches to achieve it. They were then asked to prepare a plan to achieve it. One of the parts of the plan they presented was: introverts were responsible for identifying and generating a database of prospective clients while extroverts were to make the sales call. Since sales calls are more time consuming, they realigned the existing account management between themselves so that they continue to leverage from them.

Net result:

1.    Complete ownership and accountability coz it was their idea and I did not tell the team what to do/ how to do it

2.    Each member capitalised on their strengths and passion

3.    Better camaraderie amongst the team!

4.    Departmental goals achieved


First step to be a better boss is to understand your team members. Second is to be able to break down and assign the departmental goals into tasks that befit each team member. This is easier said than done coz there would be a void where you may not find any team member fitting in the bill and you will have step down to fill the void. Don’t think that this will bring down your status. Trust me, these things only lead to people admiring you that you are a boss that leads by example. And yes, simultaneously prepare your team to be able to fill that gap in the future or you may get stuck in execution.

Well this write-up covers only 15-20% of what it takes to be a better boss. Being a better boss is a full-time job and you have to work towards it. But believe me that it does repay in multiples. When even after a decade, your team members send you messages that they miss working with you – you tell yourself that it is an investment that was totally worth it!