Thursday, October 20, 2005

Q: What is the Perfect Boss?

A: Dunno, but Jim and Michele McCarthy have some ideas.

This is a guest blog, written by Jim and Michele McCarthy. (I like the part about the Boss not playing the parent.)

The Perfect Boss
Jim and Michele McCarthy

A perfect boss doesn’t take care of those who work for him. He is much more effective than that. Some bosses act on the impulse to play the parent to subordinates. They cannot resist the temptation to respond to childishness with “parentness.” When the perfect boss encounters immature behaviors among his subordinates - behavior that simply begs for a parent’s touch from his boss’s hand - he just will not give in. He understands a simple, sad truth: a parent’s touch will forever stay missing if it was missing when it was originally needed. A boss’s touch won’t help.

So, wisely, he declines to provide that which will never satisfy.

Instead, he pretends that only the adults come to work. He views his relationship with his subordinates as one of respect. Securing the services on which he depends is far too important to be left to the needs of the unsatisfied children lurking within his staff. He must discharge his responsibilities after all, and it is this which ultimately provides the livelihood of all the team. To do this most effectively, he has found it best not to reward the childish aspects of our nature with attention of any kind. He acts as if the dark aspects of the children within us don’t even work for him!

What he does do is conduct business. The perfect boss treats those who work for him as if they were his most important suppliers. Which, of course, they are. Their supply of services is his biggest personal dependency. In addition to the timely pay for acceptable services he offers, there are a few additional conditions that he imposes on you, if you are one of his subordinates. These are:

A. What actions you take, you believe in.
B. What commitments you make, you keep,
C. What resources you have, you use.
D. What words you say, you believe to be true.
E. What you create, you intend to be great.

He occasionally gives you written assignments. These are your purchase orders, really. A good thing. And, if indicated, he helps the team secure resources. He also seeks accurate status from them frequently and efficiently, and he stays out of the team’s content. He knows that if you buy something from an expert, you are wise to let them to deliver it on their own. That way, it will be to the experts’ standards and he cannot be blamed for it, if it is not.

He requires that the team credibly believe itself to be doing something great, and also insists that all involved relentlessly pursue - and always adopt - what they think is the best available idea.

He requires that his team members accept their assignments explicitly, believing them to be the best possible assignments. Of course, they have the chance to improve the assignments, if possible, in collaboration with him, before they accept them.

The perfect boss always refuses to serve as a parent/judge among immature subordinates in conflict. He also knows that no good ever came of listening to one person complain about another who is not in the room, so he won’t allow that.

He never allows people to say, “People say…” If unidentified “people” have something to say, they can come say it. He listens. He just doesn’t believe in the self-appointed representation of selves not one’s own. And if people think they ought to report to him what, “people think…” they will be dismissed out of hand for not thinking.

The perfect boss pays vastly more attention to insuring the productivity, managing the satisfaction and tending to the well-being of those subordinates who get the best results than he does to those who are dramatically inclined, results-poor and/or costly to employ. He pays the most attention to those who behave the best.

The perfect boss is compassionate and wise. One sure sign that this is so is that, one way or another, people who are mostly pained about their job, (and this is especially true of any whose pain spills over onto others), will not suffer long in his domain.

When review time comes, the perfect boss assesses his satisfaction with your work. Then he summarizes it with an unambiguous grade. Plus, he says what you did to earn that grade, and tells you precisely what you would have to do additionally to gain the maximum grade. He adjusts your pay, states any new requirements regarding your future results, and does both directly in relation to the grade he has decided on for you.

The good thing about this process is it is perfectly subjective and fair. Since your boss as an individual is clearly your most important customer, fairness and your desire for truth ultimately require his naked, subjective judgment.

And, of course, the one task that the perfect boss never overlooks is to regularly and without interruption arrange that the agreed sums of money be paid to you for the services you choose to render him.

And that is all the perfect boss does.


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