David Brent or Richard Branson: Which Boss Are You?

Everyone likes to think that they’re a good employer to work for, but how do you really know what your employees think of you? If you assume people don’t like you just because you’re the boss, you’re be doing something wrong.

While a lot of bosses consider themselves a Richard Branson – voted Britain’s Most Inspirational Business Leader – the chances are they’re giving off more of a David Brent vibe. Sometimes being at the forefront of the business can blur how your staff actually see you and how you want them to see you.

You might think your employees are inspired by your attitude to business and your likeable nature; but unless you’re giving your employees the motivation they need they’re probably don’t think that you’re doing a good job.

Decide if you’re David Brent or Richard Branson by seeing how you act towards your employees and admitting which of the following you’re guilty of.

Expecting Too Much

In June 2015 Richard Branson announced Virgin would offer one year’s paid parental leave for both male and female employees. While you might not have the means to offer this kind of freedom to, the bad bosses among you will expect your employees to have the mind on business, with no respect for their home life.

Although you should encourage employees to be driven, you should also be respectful of their boundaries and other aspects of life that could affect work. Expecting too much of your employees can seriously damage your reputation as a leader, as it suggests you don’t listen to the needs of your workforce.

Not Admitting Responsibility

One of the worst things you can do as a boss is not take credit for the mistakes you make. It’s one thing to make a mistake in the first place, but ignoring it or blaming it on someone else is a completely different matter.

If you want to be taken seriously you need to be completely transparent once you’ve made a mistake. Turning to employees for help will be much more rewarding than pretending it didn’t happen and having to face the consequences.

Take a leaf out of Branson’s book and just accept the errors; “One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes”.

Mistaking Being Liked For Being Respected

Also known as ‘David Brent Syndrome’. We all want to be able to have a chat and be relaxed with our employees, but you shouldn’t go out of your way to make sure that you’re one of the gang. Ricky GervaisFirst and foremost remember that you’re a leader and should inspire employees with your decisions.

Believe it or not, no boss ever gained respect for telling a hilarious story about how they got so smashed they woke up in a tip wearing a traffic cone on their head. It might make for a hilarious story at the pub, but there’s a different between what makes a good story for work and what is plainly inappropriate.

Do not follow the lead of Brent; “You’ll never have another boss like me, someone who’s basically a chilled out entertainer”.

Lack of Trust

Hovering over your employees as they go about their daily tasks won’t inspire any kind of trust in the employee-employer relationship. The reason you hired someone else is because you need new skills to drive the company, and bring a fresh take on ideas. To let someone do this however, you need to be able to let them get on with it and simply trust them.

If you don’t trust your employees, you’re much less likely to be lenient when they ask for something. Employees are grateful of an employer who is able to sympathise and recognise when they are under strain.

These employees will be much less likely to do their best for the business. Listen to Richard Branson, bosses: “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”.

Hogging the Credit

When an employee does a great job, make sure you recognise it and give them the credit! There’s nothing worse than a boss who thinks they are responsible for every good piece of work you do. Enter Mr. Brent: “You’ve seen how I react to people, make them feel good, make them think that anything’s possible”.

Sure you might motivate your employees and that’s great – in fact that’s what every boss should be doing – but you don’t want to steal anyone’s thunder. You may have enabled your employees to believe they can do their best, but you didn’t do the work for them. If you think you did, you have a big problem on your hands.

You Think You Have All the Answers

Listen to employees who have better ideas than you. It’s really that simple. David Brent may have said, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’. But there is a ‘Me’ if you look hard enough”, but you’d be hard pushed to do all the work your staff complete yourself.

The difficult part is admitting that other people do have better ideas than you. To become a successful company you need to know when to outsource, so you need to recognise who is the best person for the job, and a lot of the time that won’t be you.

Don’t try to be a martyr by taking on all the work yourself then complaining about how much you have to do while your employees twiddle their thumbs.

Are you a Brent or a Branson? Leave a comment in the section below!



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