by Mary Grace Joseph
Dedicated to my first boss, Kim
Twelve days after I graduated college, I walked into my very first full-time job and reported to my very first full-time boss. My first afternoon on the job, I fainted in the hallway because I hadn’t eaten enough for lunch- but that’s a story for later.
From that first day, when I saw how much my boss truly cared about me and didn’t want me to faint, to this day, three years later, as that same boss is a constant and encouraging mentor in my life, even though her career took her to a new place, I have observed the habits and characteristics that made my boss one of the world’s greatest.
1. Respond. My boss replied to every email I ever sent her. It showed respect and acknowledgement for my work. I didn't ever have to wonder if she read my email or never saw it. I knew she saw it and I knew exactly how to move forward.
2. Celebrate. In our little Public Relations Department family, we celebrated birthdays, work anniversaries, Fridays, and holidays. We had a social committee that planned department events. My boss would host $50 Trivia Fridays, surprise us with a catered lunch every now and then, and overall just celebrate each of us and the special days in our lives.
3. Encourage. As a brand new writer, like most writers are, I was sensitive to any feedback from the words I had so carefully put together. My boss was so encouraging. She would specifically let me know what she liked about each article and topic and send inspiring ideas my way. With the encouragement, she would give constructive criticism and great ideas on changes to make.
4. Praise. Right along with celebrating and encouraging us, my boss was brilliant at corporately praising us. The PR Praise jar, PRaise jar for short, was for each of us to submit praises to each other anonymously. I am confident that my boss was one of its largest contributors. She enjoyed praising our good work.
5. Teambuild. With a variety of personalities and backgrounds, building a team can be a challenge. Our boss led us with grace and strength and she was a unifier. She built the common foundation that we could stand on, and she did not tolerate disunity in our department. But looking back, I really cannot remember any. She was just that good.
6. Respect. My boss had the utmost respect for her boss, our company CEO. In turn, our entire department had great respect for him and his decision-making.
7. Listen. Though managing people has to be so difficult and time-consuming, my boss never failed to listen to each of us- our concerns, our ideas, our thoughts. She truly wanted our feedback and acted from it.
8. Check In. Through monthly one-on-one meetings with each of us, my boss was able to meet us where we were, work through upcoming projects, provide guidance and encouragement, and challenge us as new projects awaited us.
9. Challenge. One month into my job, my boss named me the Division Lead for our Writing and Editorial Division. This involved planning meetings, creating quarterly goals and managing projects for the group. Although I had experience leading a team like this in college, it meant so much that she felt I was ready to handle it in a professional role.
10. Be Present. Whether she was in the office, working remotely or traveling, my boss was quick to respond to emails, and she was always just a phone call away.
If ever I manage people in the future, I’m keeping this list, pulling it out, and striving to manage exactly like my very first boss. It is a rare boss that can truly motivate and inspire a team based entirely on just who she is. She was just that good.