How to Get Comfortable Being the Boss

One of the advantages of running your own business is being your own boss—that is until you hire your first employee. Suddenly, you’re someone else’s boss. A new staff member means your business can do more but it also requires you to wear some new hats—leader, motivator, trainer. That can be a difficult transition, especially if you’ve never been a boss before. Here are some ideas to help you get more comfortable in your new role as the boss. They’re also a good reminder if you’re already one.

Cross the Friend Zone

One of the mistakes new bosses make is entering the friend zone. They do things co-workers do—always eat lunch together, socialize outside of work, talk about other employees. That approach ignores the distance you need to perform your new role. It doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly, but you need to establish boundaries. 

Employees are looking to you to lead the way. Start by communicating what you expect. Think about how you will evaluate their performance and use that as a guide. Be sure to get feedback from your employee. It can be as simple as asking what questions they have. That’s your check to be sure they understand and an opportunity to listen to any concerns they may have. 

Embrace Delegation

If you want something done right, you don’t have to do it yourself. You hired someone so you could get more done. That won’t happen if you hold on to all of the day-to-day duties. That’s why it’s important to get comfortable with delegating some things.

One of the keys to successful delegation is training. Be clear about what’s involved in a task and what results you expect. Recognize that the person may not do things exactly the way you do. Focus on outcomes. Then step back and let them do it, knowing you’re a resource if they need it.

Hold Regular 1-on-1 Meetings

It’s easy to get so wrapped up that you forget to check in with your employees. That’s where regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings can help. You’ll uncover issues before they balloon into something bigger. And you might identify an opportunity you may never have come up with on your own.   

Use the meetings to review projects. Here’s your chance to praise good work and help them problem solve obstacles. Don’t forget to use the phrase, “What do you think?”  It shows you value their ideas and empowers them to come up with solutions. 

Find a Lifeline

You may be the boss but that doesn’t mean you have to figure it out on your own. Chances are, you’re not the first to deal with a staffing issue. So why not tap someone who’s been there? Here are several free resources to help you find a mentor (they can also help with other issues):

  • SCORE – This organization matches you with a volunteer mentor who has expertise in running a small business. You can connect with these mentors via email, video chat, or face-to-face in one of their local chapters.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) – Offered through the Small Business Administration, get counseling and training on all aspects of small business management.
  • LinkedIn – This social media site lets you network with other business professionals. Just post a question online and get ideas from your contacts. They also have special interest groups you can join that focus on specific industries.
  • Chamber of Commerce – These members are often proven, local business leaders with a wealth of experience on what works in your community.

Adding staff is a sign that your business is growing. But to realize that growth, you need to embrace your new responsibilities. Start with these tips and get comfortable with your new title—the boss.

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