Answer these 11 questions to know if you're a great boss—or not

As a leader, it can be difficult to measure how you contribute to your team's success, writes Cate Huston for Quartz.

If you only measure your performance by your team's output, you may feel like your team does all the work while you contribute nothing, argues Huston, who has led a mobile and Jetpack engineering team at Automattic (the company that manages WordPress).

But there are other types of success managers should work towards outside of their team's output, writes Huston, who now manages a team of managers. She outlines questions you can ask yourself to gauge your performance.   

1: What happens when you take a week off?

When you're on vacation, you'll discover which of your activities are the most important for your team, writes Huston. When you return to the office, make note of what people missed and what they didn't, she recommends. For example, you may find your team missed your weekly email update but didn't need the usual Monday morning meeting.

2: Can your team solve problems without you?

You'll never be able to step away from your desk if you don't trust your team to handle problems on their own, argues Huston. You can prepare your team to act independently by empowering them to take ownership and responsibility for their work, she recommends.

3: Is your team's performance consistent?

Healthy teams deliver consistent results, writes Huston. Your team's week-to-week performance might fluctuate, but each month they should be closer to reaching a teamwide goal, like reaching a larger fundraising goal.

4: Do your employees tell you what they think?

Great leaders listen to everyone on their team, especially those who are less inclined to speak up during meetings, recommends Huston. If you don't seek out every voice, you'll only hear the loudest ones, she warns.

And pay attention to how your direct reports give you feedback, she adds. If someone has a problem, do they wait until they're frustrated to speak out or is it part of an ongoing conversation? Do your employees share what they're worried about? Are people comfortable asking you for help?

5: Do your employees treat each other well?

You are responsible for cultivating an inclusive team environment and making it clear you won't tolerate discriminatory or disrespectful behavior, writes Huston. You can also encourage and reward collaboration over competition among your employees, she adds.

6: Is your team getting better?

The teams that keep improving are the ones that discuss what worked and what didn't after each project ends, argues Huston. Your team should be comfortable looking for ways to change and trying out new strategies, while knowing that some changes they make won't work, she adds.

7: Do you give your employees meaningful feedback?

Great leaders don't give generic feedback like "awesome job" or shy away from delivering criticism. Instead, they use their insight into their employee's accomplishments, goals, and struggles to help them see specific strengths and areas to improve, argues Huston.

What not to say when giving feedback—and 3 things to say instead

8: Do you delegate stretch roles to your team?

Some managers fall into a trap of getting overly involved with their team's projects. But as the scope of your responsibility expands, the demands on your time are going to catch up with you, warns Jesse Sostrin, director of PwC's Coaching Center for Excellence.

In other words, if "you don't have people to hand stuff off to, you will drown," argues Huston. Consider what types of work you hand off to your team, and whether the projects you assign are getting bigger over time. If you tend to only delegate tasks, it may be time to let your employees own a broader problem.

9: Are your employees taking on bigger roles?

If your employee moves to a different team to take on more responsibility, that's a manager success, writes Huston. And if someone leaves for a bigger role elsewhere, that's a success, too, she adds.

As a manager, you can help your employees get ready for their next jump. Think about how your insights into their capabilities can point them towards the next role in your institution. Or consider what kind of opportunities you can create to help them take on more responsibility.

10: Can you take on stretch roles?  

Leaders who have their team in order can take on more stretch roles, writes Huston. Consider what you can do to help your boss, your peers, or the larger organization, she recommends.  

11: Do your peers value your perspective?

Pay attention to the topics people value your opinion on. You may notice a strength or trait you have that you didn't notice before, writes Huston (Huston, Quartz, 11/1).


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