‘A person who is in charge of a worker or organization’ – that is how Oxford chooses to define a boss, but as anyone who has worked with one will confirm, bosses are much more complex than that.
Unlike many things in world, all bosses do not fall into two neat categories of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Many shift their position, and maybe only a very few truly earn the respect of their employees, but it is easy to identify a boss who is up to no good. While every other requests from your boss can be relative and situation, a good boss will never ask you to do the following things:
To Lie: You should never be asked to lie – to customers, colleagues, senior management, vendors, family, anybody. Don’t differentiate between a ‘big’ and a ‘small’ lie, for a lie is a lie. And specially, when this lie is a cover-up to mistakes committed by them, don’t bow down to the pressure. Also, asking you to tamper with records or data is the biggest red flag that you need to notice from miles away.
To take the blame: If the entire team is at fault, your boss should not ask a single individual to take the fall for it. Similarly, he/she should admit when they themselves made a mistake, and not try to convince, coax or threaten their juniors to them to take the blame.
The avoidance of responsibility and accountability can manifest in several forms, this being the most common and dangerous.
To choose between work and family: Arm-twisting employees to choose between their job and family – no matter how subtly or lightly – is not the sign of a good boss. And if you are being told the only way to achieve success is to work overtime or all the time, be sure you are being misguided.
If it is hinted that taking days off – that you are entitled to – might get you fired, or you are forced to cancel a vacation that was planned much in advance – you know your boss isn’t looking out for you.
To snitch on other employees: Many bosses are proud of having ‘spies’ in every team, and are happy to listen to petty things that employees say about them. But, in addition to this being morally wrong, this is the telltale sign of a boss who doesn’t trust his/her team and is insecure about their own position. Bosses who cultivate or force team members to spill others’ secrets will never be able to earn the respect and trust of their employees.
To work when you shouldn’t: A good and respectable boss will never ask you to forfeit your lunch-break, under any circumstances. Similarly, you shouldn’t be forced to work overtime if you don’t want to, or off the clock, or be pushed to come to office when you are sick. If you choose to take pending work to home, that is your prerogative, but you must never be forced to do so.
A good and respectable boss knows when they are asking for too much and being unreasonable.
To create a new rule/policy every time something goes wrong: A good boss realises that mistakes are bound to happen at work, and makes the effort to solve the core problem that led to the mistake rather than jumping to conclusion. For example, instead of understanding why employees are distracted while they work and lose focus easily, an ineffective boss is likely to ban Youtube and Facebook at work, hoping it will increase results and productivity.
Good bosses might be hard to come by, and identify, but a selfish and ineffective boss can be spotted from afar. To sum up, a good boss will never ask you to ask you to do something they wouldn’t do themselves, and if you go through the above pointers carefully again, you will notice that being a good, kind, trustworthy and understanding person is important to being a good boss. At the end of the day, being a good boss is a lot about being a good person.
Have you ever been asked to do something by your boss that made it to the list above? Got anything else to add? Let us know!