HR file: Getting the best out of your practice team

The skills that make you into a great boss are the same ones that facilitate an engaging culture, say James Manktelow and Julian Birkinshaw

It is well known that the primary reason people quit a job is dissatisfaction with their immediate boss. Or stated the other way round: your company might be struggling and your pay might be mediocre but if you have an inspiring and dynamic boss you will likely stick around – and go the extra mile for them as well.

So how can you become that great boss? We recently conducted a survey of more than 15,000 workers worldwide to tackle this question, and we have pulled their answers together in a book, Mind tools for managers.

Three overall findings stand out. First, managing well is an ‘unnatural act’ for most of us – it goes against our innate desire to be in control and the centre of attention, and it requires an emphasis on people management that we rarely need in lower-level jobs.

Second, there is no quick fix. Becoming a great boss requires lots of hard work and a vast and diverse array of skills. We separate these skills into four areas: know and manage yourself; manage tasks and get things done; work with and manage other people; and general commercial awareness. You cannot excel as a manager until you are good in all four areas.

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