Talent Talk

What's the One Sign That Your Boss Loves You?

Brian de Haaff

Stories about angry, impossible-to-please bosses abound. You probably even have a tale to tell yourself. But, lots of people are satisfied at work. For almost all of them, that satisfaction is because their boss treats them well, challenges them, and recognizes them for hard work.

But do you know what the one sign is that your boss loves you?

I have had a few great bosses, and some real downers. I think that is common if you have been working for more than a decade or so. You certainly come to appreciate the bosses who are on your side, and they become easy to spot if you have had a manager driven by fear, greed, or incompetence.

One thing has resonated me while rapidly growing our product roadmap software company, Aha! I'm always thinking about how to scale our own team. After speaking with countless great folks at many different companies, I've realized that the happiest employees have something in common: They are all challenged by a great boss who recognizes their effort.

Celebrating employees’ success drives them to feel good about who they are and for whom they work. And it drives them to work harder.

Recognizing talent is not just good for employees; it’s good for their companies. A 2013 GlassDoor survey showed that more than half of employees would stay at their company longer if their bosses showed more appreciation. A separate survey of workers in Massachusetts also showed that workers value appreciation more than money. Positive psychology expert Shawn Achor, who is cited in the article, has studied workplace satisfaction for over a decade, and has shown how happiness pays off: workers are 30% more productive when given one piece of praise per day.

So, here's the the simple secret to listen for. When your boss tells you, “You did a good job,” that is the one sign that your boss loves you.

If you are not yet convinced, here is why those five words are the most important for workplace satisfaction. When you hear them, you feel:

In sharing praise, your boss is telling you that your work and happiness matter. Praise builds self-confidence; we feel good about ourselves when our work is recognized. And we feel even better when our specific accomplishments are celebrated. If we are told, "You did a good job," and then our boss names the specific goal that was reached (such as completing the consulting project on time and budget), we receive gratitude for our role in this success.

If you work at a company with two or more people, then you are part of a team. When your boss shares praise, you're reminded of the team that you work with. In turn, you accomplish more! It’s a virtuous cycle that repeats itself. Great teams are defined by what their individuals accomplish and how motivated the group is to work together. When your boss says that you did a good job, it evokes this shared sense of mission.

A loving boss is not someone who coddles you, but she is someone who looks out for your best interests. “You did a good job” should be used when you've actually achieved something of value. A loving boss should also be demanding and challenging, helping you reach for more than what you thought was possible. But in doing so, she makes you feel safe -- like you have the space to grow. In turn, you respond by giving her your best -- and pushing yourself beyond self-imposed limits.

All bosses should pull for their employees and celebrate them when they are great. Using those five magic words - “You did a good job” - creates happy employees. And happy employees are committed employees who do their best work.

What signs do you look for in a truly supportive boss?

Brian deHaaff Aha! CEO
Brian de Haaff seeks business and wilderness adventure. He has been the founder or early employee of six cloud-based software companies and is the CEO of Aha! -- the world's #1 product roadmap software. His last two companies were acquired by Aruba Networks [ARUN] and Citrix [CTXS]. Sign up for a free trial of Aha! and see why 10,000 users at the world's leading product and engineering teams trust Aha! to build brilliant product strategy and visual roadmaps. Follow us on Twitter at @bdehaaff and @aha_io.

Tags: bad boss; manager; employer-employee relationship;