7 Ways to Be a Good Boss in Bad Times

Some advice on managing through hardship.

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Karen Burns
It’s never easy being a good boss, but it’s even harder in times like these.

The work, however, must go on. So, how do you, as a boss, keep people happy and settled enough to be productive? Well, here are seven ideas to get you started:

1. Be upfront. When employees come to you with questions and worries, do your best to address them. Honestly. Even if the best you can say is: “I don’t know yet.”

2. Listen. People work better when they feel recognized, respected, and understood. So when employees talk, listen to them.

3. Provide feedback. Let employees know when they’re doing right (and when they’re not). Give them the tools they need to succeed.

4. Smile once in a while. You may not feel you have much to be cheerful about, but your mood sets the tone for the workplace. So put on a brave face.

5. When the news is bad, don’t hedge. In other words, be completely forthcoming. If it’s a layoff, if it’s a major reorg, look ‘em in the eye, say what needs to be said, and don’t shilly-shally.

6. Ask for input. Your employees are just as interested in the health of the company as you are. Consult with them. They may have great ideas.

7. Remain visible. Now is no time to retreat behind a closed office door. You’re the boss. It’s your job to step up to the plate and lead. Now more than ever.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009 (but available now for pre order at Amazon!). She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .