I worked a “9-to-5” job for seven years. Part-time during university and then directly after I graduated. I’ve sat at a desk, filed documents, corresponded with clients and worked with coworkers. I’ve also had a few bosses along the way. Whether a manager or a boss, I’ve worked with individuals who were my mentors, instructors and in many ways, dictators of my success and happiness. To me, a boss has a hard role. They need to evoke a sense of leadership and authority while also being approachable and a teacher all while encompassing the vision of what the company strives for. It’s hard to have all eyes on you and to always have the answers. Add on to this that they need to show appreciation towards their employees – the people who make their company successful.
Now, I’ve found myself in both roles of boss and employee. It’s a strange transition as I’m more accustom to the employee role. Each day I need to take time to show appreciation to myself and to not only congratulate myself on my success but to give myself a break when I mess up. It’s a trait I’m not so proud of but I’m extremely hard on myself. I expect perfection and if it’s not delivered I’m upset. While this is partly a good thing – it fuels the fire and makes me work my butt off – it’s also the exact opposite of what a great boss is. A great boss won’t tear you down and tell you that you suck. They won’t say you failed or that you ruined everything. No, they will be understanding and calm. They will offer advice on how to improve next time and how to rectify the situation. When I was in my 9-to-5 job I had the chance to manage juniors and to train and teach them the ins and outs of the business. There were many (many) times they would mess up, tell the client something incorrect, accidentally delete a client’s HTML code from their site, or even hang up on a client by mistake when trying to transfer calls. Each time they’d look at me with total disappointment (and embarrassment) and I’d say don’t worry about it. I’d tell them how to approach the client with the correct answer, help them add in the code they deleted and that we’d write down the steps on how to transfer the call for when the client calls back. I knew in those moments that getting mad or upset wouldn’t help anyone. Instead, offering help and advice got us through and let them learn what they needed to know.
There are times I have forgotten this. I forget that I was this awesome mentor who had the answers and had confidence even if things went wrong. So I’ve decided that I’m going to try to be a better boss this year. To be the type of boss I was before. To keep calm when I do something wrong, to learn what to do for next time, and to take the time to show appreciation to myself. I need to remember that employees need motivation and encouragement and it’s easy to show through small acts of kindness. So today I will buy my employee some Starbucks and then offer that she take the day off early to celebrate being a published photographer.