Staff Management

Best Boss, Worst Boss: Which Are You?

By Anthony Record

May 22, 2019

One of my favorite exercises to conduct during my live seminars is what I like to call The Best or Worst Test. This self-assessment shows people the kind of boss they are. This is important information to have because your staff is your practice’s greatest–and most costly–asset.

You want to make sure you are the kind of boss who is inspiring great patient care and service, rather than one who causes loss of morale and poor service.

To make you the best that you can be, I am going to ask you to take this two-part test. The first part is comprised of the following 15 statements. As you read them, if you Strongly Agree with the statement, give yourself a 4. If you simply Agree with the statement, give yourself a 3. If you Disagree, give yourself a 2. Finally, if you Strongly Disagree with the statement, give yourself a 1. Once you have done that, add up all your responses to get a grand total. Here are the statements:

1. Most ECPs could probably improve job performance quite a bit if they really wanted to.

2. It is unrealistic to expect people to show the same enthusiasm for work as for leisure activities.

3. Even when given encouragement from their supervisor, very few people show the desire to improve themselves on the job.

4. If you give people enough money, they are less likely to care about status and recognition.

5. When employees talk about wanting more responsibility, what they really want is more money.

6. Since most people don’t like making decisions, it is hard to get them to assume more responsibility.

7. Being tough with people will usually get them to do what you want.

8. A good way to get people to do more work is to crack down on them from time to time.

9. It weakens business owners’ prestige whenever they admit that a subordinate was right and that they were wrong.

10. The most effective practice managers are the ones who get results regardless of methods used in handling people.

11. It is too much to think that people will do a good job without being prodded by their supervisor.

12. Managers who expect people to set their own goals and standards for superior performance will probably find that they don’t set them very high.

13. If people don’t use much imagination or ingenuity on the job, it is probably because relatively few people have much of either.

14. One problem in asking for the ideas of subordinates is that their perspective is a little too limited for their suggestions to be of much practical value.

15. It is only human nature for people to do as little work as they can get away with.

Once you have added up your responses, you have a total somewhere between 15-60. And while this is certainly a limited assessment, I would say that the closer your score is to 60, you are probably being perceived as autocratic and inexperienced (bossy) when it comes to your leadership style and abilities. Likewise, the closer your score is to 15, you are probably being perceived as team-oriented and experienced – a real leader. Additionally, even though I used the word “perceived,” my experience is that it is also usually the reality.

And let’s not be all warm and fuzzy here. While it’s true that in the 21st century, we should strive to be less autocratic and more team-oriented, there are times when the most effective leaders must be autocratic and make an independent decision for their practice. Regarding that assessment, I would only be alarmed if you scored in either extreme (15-20 or 55-60). Generally, if you scored too close to 15, I bet you could use training in assertiveness. On the other end of the spectrum, if you scored too close to 60, consider training in communication or team-building.

Here’s the second part of the test. Think back to all the bosses you have ever had in your life. Include all of them…all the way back to that summer job you had when you were 15. Write down the name of the best boss you ever had. Then do the opposite. Write down the name of the worst boss you ever had. Underneath each of these names, write down a few characteristics. What was it that made that man or woman the best? Write it down. What was it that made that man or woman the worst? Write it down. Here are some typical responses:

Best: Open, friendly, outgoing, good listener, fair, patient, generous, caring, motivational, trustworthy, encouraging, good communicator, clear expectations, flexible, friendly, fun, respectful, organized, available, fostered growth, considerate, knowledgeable, honest, compassionate, hard worker, calm, tolerant, a mentor, real, wise, understanding, sensitive, professional, kind, generous, easy to talk to, soft-spoken, open-minded, supportive, smiled, good teacher, upbeat, high standards.

Worst: Stoic, indecisive, arrogant, sneaky, domineering, always right, non-caring, petty, bad listener, my way or the highway, nitpicker, secretive, unprofessional, negative, racist, unchanging, unfair, non-motivating, nervous, spineless, too controlling, liar, egotistical, a “yes” man, greedy, cold, drunk, stingy with information, condescending, disorganized, pushy, evil, lazy, bad temper, unpredictable, sexist, gossiper, confused, aloof, negative, over-demanding, bad communicator, forgetful.

What do you notice about the lists? Maybe you noticed some of the characteristics of your old bosses. Maybe you noticed their opposites; or positives vs. negatives. But did you notice anything else? A few years ago, I asked that question during a live training. After the attendees had shared some of the characteristics they had written down, I displayed a PowerPoint slide showing the above two lists. When I asked the audience, “What do you notice?” I received the common replies.

Then I heard a young man in the back mutter, “Oh crap.” When I asked him to explain, he said, “I just realized something. None of the characteristics of the Best Bosses has anything whatsoever to do with my technical abilities.” Bingo! Except for “knowledgeable,” nothing does. You’re ah-ha moment should be that, technically speaking, you could be the best optometrist in your state and still be the worst boss. But take heart.

If you need to develop in yourself some of those “best” characteristics, guess what? You can! And while it might take training and effort, there is nothing on that list that requires all that much effort. You do not need to go back to college and get a four-year degree in being more honest, or open, or respectful. You get it…just do it!

 

Anthony Record is a licensed optician and owner of Optical Seminars. To contact him: anthony@opticalseminars.com

 

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