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What a Good Boss Does That Others Don’t


Bad managers are the No. 1 reason workers leave their jobs, so the importance of having (and being) and good boss can’t be overstated. The problem, of course, is that it’s difficult to arrive at a consensus of what this means. What is it, exactly, that good managers do and bad managers don’t?


(Photo Credit: Kumar Appaiah/Flickr)

A recent study from positive psychology expert Michelle McQuaid and The VIA Institute on Character suggests that it comes down to knowing what their employees do best.

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“Employees denied the opportunity to know and develop their strengths are more likely to be the ones struggling to get out of bed in the morning,” said McQuaid in a statement. “If you want to turn disengaged employees around, sit down with them … and ask them when do they feel the most engaged, energized and happy at work, then focus on developing these strengths moving forward.”

Seventy-one percent of surveyed employees said that they were more likely to feel engaged in their work when their managers could name their strengths. Employees who described themselves as having had a “meaningful conversation” about their strengths with their managers were most likely to characterize themselves as “flourishing” at work. Seventy-eight percent of employees who had these discussions felt that their work was making a difference, and as a result, were less likely to leave their jobs.

The takeaway is pretty clear: if you want to motivate your reports to feel engaged with their jobs and loyal to the company, the best way to do it is to talk to them about the things they do best, not just the areas in which they could improve. In many corporate cultures, where annual reviews are everything and the bottom line always starts with a dollar sign, that’s a radical change in thinking — but perhaps it shouldn’t be.

“People are naturally motivated to work toward things that have personal value for them, and this can usually be found through recognizing their [talents],” Casey Mulqueen, director of research and product development at The Tracom Group, tells Business News Daily.

Or, as your mother probably put it: “You catch more flies with honey.”

That doesn’t mean that every conversation needs to be about strengths, or that you can never give constructive criticism, of course. It just means that the most successful managers are the ones who focus on the positive, as well as discussing possibilities for improvement.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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*to demonstrate 😉


Right on the money. My last supervisor was not aware of the many ways I contributed to the organization, and never made much effort to find out, until I left. I am now much happier at a job where I am able to stretch and grow, and do demonstrate my competence with a supervisor who gives me the opportunity to shine and recognizes when I do.

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