THE BLOG
10/16/2014 11:12 am ET Updated Dec 16, 2014

Boss' Day: Time to Hug Your Boss

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Do you hate your job? Well, maybe it's time to hug your boss. Today is Boss' Day, a holiday created in the late 1950s to improve the relationship between boss and employee.

Working with others is not always easy. Different opinions, personal drama, and conflicting goals all arise in the workplace, but that doesn't mean they have to put a strain on office harmony. Good leaders know how to foster positive working relationships between employees and offer solutions to deal with the inevitable bumps in the road.

However, this is not always the case -- a recent Gallup poll found that 70 percent of respondents "either hate their jobs or are completely disengaged." Shocking as it may be, there are a lot of reasons for negativity, and management plays large part. Gallup reported that "poor management was one of the leading causes for employee disengagement."

Now, while I have been a boss for more than 10 years, I have also had the benefit of witnessing a multitude of employee/manager relationships by consulting for a variety of organizations. I have seen an innumerable amount of mistakes and successes, and can confidently say that good management is better not just for the employees, but for the health of the organization as a whole.

Because of this importance, I have pulled together some of the most important tips for employee management, for any boss. Whether you are having trouble communicating in the workplace or at home, they will be helpful to manage others, but also to suggest practices to look for when evaluating the culture of a job you might be interested in.

1. Always make sure to recognize good work. People like affirmation that they're doing well, and recognizing good work is one of the most effective (and inexpensive) ways to boost employee morale and maintain a positive working relationship. And keep in mind, positive reinforcement doesn't always have to be formal. A simple "thank you!" for turning in an assignment or a quick shout-out during an office meeting for a job well done can go a long way. Employees who feel appreciated have much higher retention rates.

2. Keep workplace equity in mind when making changes. Employees have a tendency to become attached to the way things are, but changes don't have to be upsetting if they're done right. Communication is critical when major changes take place. If an explanation isn't an option, a simple notification beforehand can go a long way. The key is to help employees feel like they are part of the change rather than a victim of it.

3. Maintain communication channels. I cannot tell you the problems I have seen in organizations that could have been avoided if the problem was addressed when it was small. So: do not wait until something becomes a problem to deal with it. And while you can't be available to hear about your employee's problems all the time, you can implement effective communication outlets for them to address issues. One option is having an HR professional hold open "office hours," another is creating an email address specifically for employees to express concerns. These measures can make a huge difference in productivity and happiness because it will help employees to feel like their input and feelings are taken seriously. And remember it is even more important to show concrete results that come out of their suggestions; otherwise, it is just an exercise without credibility.

4. Don't underestimate the importance of employee well-being. You hire human beings. While everyone is told that personal issues shouldn't be brought to the workplace, it is far easier said than done. Allowing employees the flexibility to deal with outside issues, especially in proactive ways, will be better for productivity in the long term and can be done without sacrificing professionalism. David Ballard, Director of the Center for Organizational Excellence of the American Psychological Association, has observed over the years that employees "become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life." These resources can come in the form of a benefits package, but there are many creative ways to promote healthy living in the workplace.

Management can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding when you are able to see employees reach their potential. A team is only as strong as the weakest link. Making sure that each employee has the resources to succeed in the workplace is good for them and good for the organization as a whole. Even the best boss has room to improve; use these tips to reflect on your own management style to help be even better.