Episode 64.5 – Green Apple Slice


Are You A Good Boss? Test Yourself With These 5 Questions


The Green Apple Podcast is doing weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or Stitcher.

This week, John and Rachel discuss a Forbes article, “Are You A Good Boss? Test Yourself With These 5 Questions” by Lisa Quast.


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    John: So Rachel, thank you so much for being with me again today. This is so much fun talking with you so I’m glad you’re back.

    Rachel: That’s awesome. Thanks, John. It’s my pleasure.

    John: Absolutely. A couple of weeks ago, I talked with Brad Moore who was in the military and special ops.

    Rachel: The Canadian military at that which is awesome.

    John: The Canadian military, that is correct. That is correct. He was really great. But I read this article that was on Forbes, and I thought that it related to him because part of it was — the name of the article is “Are you a good boss? Test yourself with these five questions?”

    Rachel: It’s one of those articles that you see the title of and you’re like, okay, I really want to know if I am, but I don’t want to know. Maybe I don’t want to see these five questions.

    John: Right, let me just be first one. Let’s see how the first question goes, and we’ll take it from there, all right, buddy? How does that sound?

    Rachel: I want to pass it on to my boss. I don’t want to look at it myself.

    John: Right. Just Xerox it, print it out, and then put it anonymously on their desk. I don’t know where it came. I have no idea. That’s so funny. One of the questions was have you worked with each employee to help him or her understand the role that they play in contributing to the success of the organization? Which I think is really important and something that Brad talked about where he will take the time to sit with people one on one if need be to walk through things, to make them understand where their piece fits and how to do things properly. He said that it’s really helped with building the culture and the camaraderie amongst everyone there.

    Rachel: Yeah, which is awesome. I think there is another one that I was looking at. It was about making sure that you know what your values are, make sure you know what the company’s values are and then finding where they overlap or where they can kind of converge. But in order for you to appreciate or to make them work ahead, you need to know what your staff’s values are, what the team that you’re working with, how can you as a manager or supervisor or boss at whatever level, help to make sure that you’re facilitating that alignment, which I thought was really cool because I think, in many cases, it’s so easy to get in on conference calls and meetings and stuff like that where you’ll talk to your staff as a group, but how are you possibly going to be able to talk to everybody one on one in order to help facilitate that? I mean a lot of it goes back to the organizational piece of your company. Do you have too many people reporting to you? How can you structure that in a way that people feel like they have meaningful connections with their managers?

    John: Yeah. They were all good questions. I agree. That is a tricky thing because I mean also in the article it said that — this is what I read — 50% of people had left their job to get away from their manager specifically, which is a lot. And also, that poor people management skills negatively affect employee happiness because 70% of the variance of employee engagement was related to the managers, your direct report.

    Rachel: I’m looking at these people going, how are these managers getting to be managers? Is there not a personal side to these managers? Isn’t that why they get promoted to these positions? I think it’s just —

    John: No, it’s not.

    Rachel: Right. You’re a really good worker so you get promoted to senior worker, then you’re a great senior so then you get promoted to supervisor and your team is doing okay, therefore you get promoted to manager. Then along the way going, wait a minute, do they actually have management skill? It’s a separate skill set.

    John: Completely separate skill set.

    Rachel: Personality that is able to pull that off, right?

    John: Definitely, absolutely. I saw that when I worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers early on in my career. Even when I worked at Clarian Health Partners, the kind of people that got promoted was, well, who’s left? Who’s been here longest? Well, that’s terrible. This is the worst possible idea.

    Yes. They have the experience, but is it the right kind of experience to be leading people? I think what happens is a lot of times people get thrust into that role, and then you have to figure it out. That’s the hard part is, hey, I’m trying to figure this out. I can’t worry about your feelings and what you’re thinking about as my staff. You want to know my feelings? I don’t know what I’m doing. That’s inside my brain, but you can’t let that out because you don’t want to look vulnerable.

    Rachel: Okay, so you have been spying me at work. You have because this is my internal dialogue every single day at work. I’m in a relatively new position. It’s a national role which means I’ve got team members right from Newfoundland to BC or, the American version, right from New York to L.A.

    John: Atlantic to Pacific. There we go.

    Rachel: Atlantic to Pacific, exactly. How do I establish this team that is working towards this cohesive goal? Actually, it was on our podcast, my dear, that we were talking about how my experience as a choir director is actually helping me do that. But sometimes you just need that one-on-one attention. I was talking with my boss about, well, I’ve got this national team. We’ve got dozens of staff involved in these teams. How do I make sure that nobody’s falling through the cracks, that none of the work is falling through the cracks? It comes down to one on one. You’ve got to make the time. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, but it’s got to have time.

    Book a call over the course of a month or a quarter or a year, depending on the size of your team, make sure that you’re connecting with every single one of your direct reports on a regular basis. Again, it doesn’t have to be long, 5 to 15 minutes. Hear concerns, talk about issues. In some cases, there’s really small issues that your staff could be huge brick walls, and a five-minute discussion will either get a solution made or will escalate to the point that you can help them get a solution to that. It’s amazing how they could stop in their tracks. I can’t get any more work done until this gets solved. But just being able to have that one on one, they might not want to bring it up in a team minute, but having that one-on-one time just allows you to break through those walls quickly and efficiently.

    John: Yeah, that’s such an excellent tip. Like you said, it doesn’t take long. It takes five minutes, ten minutes tops, and just a one-on-one check-in. I think that’s great. The bigger your reach and the more people that you’re over, the more that you need to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse.

    Rachel: Yeah, and that people still connected, right?

    John: Right, and why they’re there and why they come in every day and that you know who they are. If you can, added with the Green Apple message, if you know what they do outside of work, then that’s an extra bonus. Just make them feel connected to the job, then that’s great. You could open your call with, you know, so how’s the choir director going? Or things like that. Yes, I think that’s awesome. Excellent tip, Rachel. Thank you so much. We’ll be back again soon and until then, you have a good rest of the week.

    Rachel: Thanks. Talk to you later.

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