How’s your French?
Try this: ‘Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.’
If your French, like mine, is confined to clumsy exchanges with bemused waiters in Parisian restaurants, then you’ll appreciate a translation, ‘The more things change, the more they remain the same.’
The saying is attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr and it was the quote I recalled as I happened upon the results of the Parents At Work / Lloyds TSB ‘Britain’s Best Boss 2003’ survey.
So what did the judges conclude made a great boss in 2003?
1. Put your trust in people - be as open as possible and be prepared to take risks sometimes.
2. Treat people as individuals - get to know them and be open to listening to their concerns as well as their ideas.
3. Deal with individual concerns and disciplinary issues promptly - the whole team will respect you for this.
4. Set objectives that have clear outcomes - keep careful records if you have any concerns about an individual’s ability to perform effectively.
5. It’s OK to say ‘no’ - sometimes, for example, if there are issues around performance or there is a genuinely negative impact on operational needs.
6. Make sure your communications are effective - hold regular team meetings.
7. Treat people as you would want to be treated – think back to your own experiences, both positive and negative, of managers that have supervised you.
8. Keep people fresh and motivated by promoting training – and don’t forget to give them other development opportunities (see tip 10!).
9. Remember to give credit where it is due - celebrate successes and hold regular individual reviews.
10. Delegate responsibility – not always easy at first, but by putting your trust in people, they will become more engaged in their work.
A decade on and these still hold up well and will probably do so for the next generation of bosses that populate the coming decades.
As the man said: ‘Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.’