Do you remember all your bosses? I can name a few that were totally useless. While, I'm sure we've all had a few bosses who were ... well ... you know what I mean.
But how many bosses have you had that made work enjoyable? I had the privilege of working for two super bosses. And even though it has been some time since I worked for them, my respect continues to grow for both of them.
A few years ago, my former boss, Jerry Campbell retired. On his last day of work I shook his hand and told him that through my years of working for many different bosses he was the second one to earn my respect. I didn’t say this just to be nice, but rather as a factual response. Through nearly 30 years in the workforce, I’ve had two managers whom I would go back to work with in a minute.
For eight years I worked at a church and school. The first five years, my boss was Dale Wenz. Dale was a former teacher, roughly 10 years older then me, and very patient. Being patient and a former teacher made him an excellent boss. When I started this job I had no real knowledge about custodial care of a building, nor any knowledge of steam boilers, or any idea of major care and maintenance of a building that size.
Dale was a great boss because he was an excellent teacher. The first time I tore into a boiler, he sat in a chair and watched. He told me step by step what I needed to do. He didn’t lift a hand to help me. He didn’t even say “I wouldn’t do it that way.” He just sat and watched. That first time a half hour job took me close to two hours. But I learned and it was because of Dale’s patience and confidence in me, that I could do it. The next time the boiler needed to be worked on, Dale told me he would be at the other end of the building and if I needed to ask him a question to come and find him. That time it took me an hour, but I did it all by myself.
Dale had the faith in me which helped me succeed. With this faith, I realized he trusted me. And it might take me all day to make a project work, but he knew if I really needed help I would ask for it. More importantly to me was the fact that I knew the work would get done.
Now Jerry was a teacher in his field. That old saying “he’s forgotten more then I will ever know,” was very true with Jerry. But Jerry never flaunted his knowledge. He went about his job as a professional. He would give his advice once – just once. If you wanted to listen and ask questions, he would teach you. One of the wisest things he ever told me was that when you teach someone, you teach them how to do a job. Not how you would do the job, but how to do it. It was up to the student to learn how to do a job, the way he wanted it done. Not the way the teacher wanted it done.
Both of these bosses looked for results and growth from their employees. And they both had the confidence and faith that their employees would do their best when left alone. Yes, they would check-up on them, but they’d leave the work for them. For the most part they didn't lecture on how a job should be performed. They taught and then they let their students learn on their own.
Though Dale and Jerry were as different as night and day, they earned my respect for the knowledge they had, not just with their jobs, but with their ability to relate with their workers. Through them I learned the manners of a great boss.
- To have patience and understand that no one is perfect.
- To realize that to have good help, they must get their hands dirty. You can learn just so much by watching. There comes a point where you just need to do it!
- To back away and let your help learn. With this the boss will also understand things won’t get done as quickly – at first. But in time, they will be just as proficient.
- Like a dying flower, an employee will wither and die, if the boss shows no confidence or faith in their help.
- Your help are human beings. They do have feelings and the words that are said can have a lasting effect.
If you have a “great” boss cherish them, because they are hard to find!