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What I've learned about being a boss

It’s a year since I became a boss. I’ve gone from barely being able to tie my own shoelaces to looking after a team of ten of the best analysts in the company. There have been tears. There has been laughter. It has been tough but very rewarding. Here are four things I’ve learned (or “learnings” as idiots might call them):

Praise goes down blame goes up

In most jobs I’ve had there is a tendency for mistakes to be passed downwards. This is particularly true in my current workplace. The blame for poor decisions from on high results in the person at the coalface taking the stick. Not only is this unfair, it doesn’t actually get to the root of the problem and thus leads to recurring headaches. I am responsible for the work my team produces. So if mistakes are made – and where they happen it’s usually down to people being overworked or inadequately briefed – those mistakes are ultimately my fault. Conversely, when things go right it’s essential to acknowledge the contribution of the people who actually do the hard graft.

Respect has to be earned

I cringe at the memory of a senior colleague informing a junior member of staff that she should have more respect for her superiors. This is an outmoded and dangerous attitude. You can’t force respect. Trying to do so is likely to have the opposite effect. I try never to ask people do something I wouldn’t do myself, despite the fact they are often much better than me at many things. It’s also important to acknowledge your weaknesses. People who think they know everything are usually the most hazardous.

Sometimes a wrong decision is better than no decision at all

Many of the headaches I’ve had in this company and others have been due to the inability of those in power to make a timely decision. Procrastination means trivial issues can snowball into serious problems. Recognising concerns and nipping them in the bud is essential. Often in retrospect I’ve realised I could have handled something better. It’s almost always possible to come up with a better solution with hindsight. What’s important is that the problem has been addressed rather than ignored.

You’re only as good as your team

I’ve had a pretty good year at work. I’ve had a lot of successes, praise and even won an award. But I’m under no illusions that none of this would have happened without the efforts of the entire team, who are unstintingly brilliant. As one of my colleagues told me: “It’s easy when you’ve got all the best analysts.” They may have been joking, but they were right.

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