Productivity, retention, and leadership development all depend on one factor more than any other: the boss. Here’s a quick overview of what’s at stake:

How does a busy business owner become a boss the whole team will rally behind, stick with, and invest their futures in? 

Mentoring 

Mentoring is not leading by example, being the hero of every story, or pontificating about your vision and experience. Being a mentor means helping your employees, as Lendistry CEO Everett K. Sands puts it, “skip steps” in their career path. Here are some specific ways to mentor employees.

  1. Never go to a meeting or lunch with one of your connections alone. Bring an employee with you and make them part of the meeting. Rotate who you bring evenly and NEVER play favorites.
  2. Ask employees about their goals, offer your insights, and include them in any activity or opportunity that will further that goal. Introduce them to anyone you know who can offer advice if you can’t.
  3. Instead of giving advice, follow business coach Michael Bungay Stanier’s method and stay curious for 60 seconds before responding, then ask what ideas THEY have first. Let it be a conversation, not a speech.

Coaching, Feedback & Accountability

A great coach sets clear expectations, including the end goal and steps along the way that need to be completed. It takes time on your part to check in and make sure the steps are being accomplished. If they’re falling behind, ask why develop a new plan to meet the goal on time.

Give feedback that is consistent, constructive, specific, and inspiring. Prepare your feedback ahead of time and don’t give it off the cuff. If you have mostly criticisms, have the conversation in private. Remember that feedback is about developing this person into a future leader. It is not meant to shame them into doing better.

A great coach is also tuned into the company’s vision, and applies the team’s day-to-day activities to that vision to keep everyone focused and united. 

Career Development

People are more likely to stay and devote time and effort to a company if they feel they will grow there. Providing opportunities for employees to learn, grow, and expand their own network are essential to making them feel empowered and also ensuring quality in your leadership pipeline. 

Provide time and encouragement for employees to learn new skills. Mastering new technology, honing business skills, and thinking more broadly will give them confidence, make them better at their jobs, and help them evolve into leaders. 

Career development can involve something as large as giving them the time flexibility to earn a master’s degree, to taking online or adult ed courses, to encouraging them to read books that will expand their minds and discussing the books with them. 

Being a great boss, a mentor, and a coach requires you to go above and beyond achieving your own goals.