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What makes a good boss?

Perhaps we could say the secret of being a good boss is to have had a good boss yourself and to recognise what those characteristics were...
Jun 27,2015
. Jackie: For this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast, I'm speaking to Kevin. Hi Kevin.

Kevin: Hi Jackie.

Jackie: Who do you work for Kevin?

Kevin: I work for a company called Mace. We are an international er… property and construction company.

Jackie: Ok. And what's your position in the company?

Kevin: I'm an operations director, so I'm responsible for running a department.

Jackie: Ok. So how many people do you have in your department?

Kevin: Well, there's about 270 in my department and I'm responsible for about 70 of those.

Jackie: Wow. So you're in charge of 70 people?

Kevin: Yes

Jackie: That's a lot of people.

Kevin: It is.

Jackie: [laughs] Kevin, I know this is a difficult question, but what do you think makes a good boss?

Kevin: Well it is a difficult question Jackie er… and I don't think there is any right answer to that. But I think the most important thing in a boss is to be able to motivate the staff, to be clear about what their role and their responsibilities are and to support them in their day-to-day work.

Jackie: Now if you are a boss surely you should be able to do those three things?

Kevin: Well, it sounds easy. I think in reality where you have so many staff it's very difficult to have contact with all of them. Enough contact er… for them all to be able to know what you expect of them. And for you to know how well they’re performing.

Jackie: Yes because you can't motivate people, for example, unless you know them quite well I suppose and how well they’re doing in the job and that they need motivating…

Kevin: It's very important that you are able to get to know as many of them as you can personally so you know what it is that they're looking for in a job. The motivation comes from developing some kind of relationship with them.

Jackie: Although it's interesting that you say that, I think um… one of... when I've had bosses that maybe I hadn't seen eye to eye with is because they've tried to be perhaps too friendly with the staff and that they want to kind of um… not to be friends with them necessarily but to see them socially as well, and as far as I'm concerned I'd prefer to have a boss that I didn't particularly like socially but I thought that they were good as a boss. I think… I think there are two… there's a distinction there, isn't there?

Kevin: There is, there’s a balance. When I first moved into managing people that took some getting used to. But er… I do not socialise with my staff more than maybe once a month for a drink after work on a Friday but er… I don't form strong personal friendships with the majority of my staff although because I manage such a big team I have three very important people who support me who I have developed, I guess a stronger relationship with. So they are my three deputies for want of a better description.

Jackie: Do you think, there's a lot of training to be good managers isn't there, do you think that the training works, do you think that someone can improve their management skills?

Kevin: Yes, I think they can, erm… there's different ways that you can er .. you can obviously have formal training and um… there's a lot of that type of training available but I think most of the best training comes from learning from people you work with and seeing people who do it well and trying to apply that in practice yourself.

Jackie: So, um… perhaps we could say the secret of being a good boss is to have had a good boss yourself and to recognise what those characteristics were.

Kevin: Absolutely

Jackie: Thank you very much, Kevin.

Kevin: It's a pleasure.