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5 simple ways not to be an asshole boss.

Have you ever come to work. Uneasy. Wary. Tense. Unsure. 

It wasn’t the side effects from leftover Chinese food that looked suspect but you ate it anyways. You were suffering from a bad boss. You know what I’m talking about—that jerk who made your life a living hell. You dreaded talking to them, you cursed under your breath when they walked into your office, you rolled your eyes when they said something. They made you scratch your head and ask, how the hell did they get this far? 

As our company grew and I gained more and more employees, I started to ask myself if I was one of them. Was I doing things that put me in the asshole category? Did I have bad habits to break, insecurities to address, people skills to hone? 

Of course I did. 

Any boss who says otherwise is probably one you don’t like.

Owning or managing a company is a journey. You can go to school for management, but it won’t teach you people skills. You can read books on success, but they won’t teach you how to talk to people. You can be profitable, but it won’t give you respect.

You’ve got to dig in and try. And make mistakes. And learn. And fail again. And try again. Every fucking day.

The pain of uncovering your weaknesses isn’t an easy pill to swallow. You might think it’s not worth the effort, but I’m here to tell you it absolutely is. The number one reason that employees leave a job is a bad manager, and high turnover can cost a company thousands, if not millions of dollars. 

Let’s start small. Take one simple thing below, and figure out how to build it into your day. It’s called change. Come on, do it with me.

1. Give away the credit. Do it. Now.

As a self-professed control freak, I don’t think anyone can do the job better than me. There, I said it. Weakness number one exposed. 

But if you have a team of people working on a project, swallow your damn pride and let others know that you couldn’t have done it without them. Build other people up to be proud of what they did, not swept under the carpet and made to feel like their contribution didn’t matter.

You don’t have to be fake, you just have to stop taking all the credit and keeping it for yourself. What you get back in respect will outweigh your control freak ways.

2. Stop threatening people.

Want to know the easiest way in the world to demotivate someone? Threaten them. 

“If I don’t have this on my desk by Thursday you’re fired,” is the type of statement which will indeed get you results by Thursday, but it will also get your employee writing his resume that evening. No one wants to come to work each day unsure and worried if their job is going to be snatched out from under them.  

Rephrase how you ask things or assign tasks. Build up people so that you find solutions together and they feel like they want to help you.

 “We’ve got a Thursday deadline that I just can’t move, how can we make this happen?”

3. You won’t die from giving a compliment.

Acknowledging people for doing a good job gives everyone in the office positive, feel good vibes. Say something nice. Just spit it out. In a meeting, in front of other people, tell someone they did a good job. Bringing a smile to someone’s face just makes them want to do a better job next time, and it makes them feel great about coming to work. 

4. Check your moody attitude at the door.

We all have good and bad days. But nothing is worse than an owner or manager spreading negativity around the office. If you are having a bad day, adjust your damn attitude and try harder. You are one hundred percent in charge of how you speak, your body language and your attitude to others in your office. Make it worthy.

5. Just have a damn drink.

Look, you have to spend a lot of time with the people you work with. So, go for a drink. Share something personal. Get to know them. Make friends. I gave up years ago from keeping employees at arms length. 

I love this question that I learned in Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness. “Is this someone I would choose to hang out with or grab a drink?” If the answer is no, then don’t hire them to begin with. 

After all, life’s too short to hang out with assholes.