Miss Debrett on... Bosses
Just because you're the boss doesn't mean
your subordinates have to respect you.
But they're more likely to do so if you
don't patronise them.
Don't boast: it might make you feel
big to regale underlings with tales
of your high-flying exploits -
boardroom battles, career
triumphs, big bucks,
business accolades -
but they'll just see you
as a sad workhorse who
doesn't have a life.
Don't try to charm your employees. Compliments on appearance (beyond a generalised 'you look smart') are risky. Nosiness about their personal life is seen as creepy. Attempting to be one of the girls by telling off-colour anecdotes is simply offensive. And laddish bonhomie is merely embarrassing.
Social flirting is acceptable amongst equals, but beware: if you
get the tone even slightly wrong there will be fears that you are making a pass, and you may find yourself entering very dangerous (possibly illegal) waters. A better option is to go for an air of relaxed camaraderie. Listen carefully to what your employees are saying, encourage them to speak out and don't bully them or talk over them, and defuse all situations with easy-going irony and humour.
Remain even-tempered whatever the provocation - you may confuse foul-mouthed rants with swaggering machismo (even if you're a woman)… your staff will simply see an overgrown infant throwing its toys out of the pram.
Miss Debrett's Top Tips
- Never patronise your staff. Your aim is to gain their respect and trust.
- Be fair and never publicly lose your temper. Don't shout or criticise people in front of others.
- Be cautious about flirting with the girls or telling risqué jokes to the boys. You'll risk coming across as sleazy and inappropriate.