Belatedly, in honor of National Boss’ Day, here’s a short list of things I liked that some of my previous bosses did.
1. “H—– Day.” My boss J. would sometimes pick a slow day and randomly announce it as a holiday, naming it after himself. I always said that if I became a manager, someday I would throw a H—– Day as well. (Not just because H—– Days often involved baseball…though that is definitely a plus.)
2. Office hours. My boss G. (the CTO) had half an hour of his schedule in each week which was designated as one employee’s face-to-face time slot. We didn’t necessarily meet every week, but it was really nice to have a set timeslot that, if you wanted, you could just stop by and talk about projects or whatever else was on your mind.
3. The IT priorities list. Same boss, G., had a single Excel spreadsheet with everything that all the groups (web, sysadmin, db, etc.) were working on. Every Friday, there was an hour-long meeting in which all the requesters met with the IT heads and bickered over who got dibs on IT’s time. I always thought that was clever — everyone always knew what other things were on deck, so if you got stuck on your top priority you could just jump down one, and nobody was ever yelling for things to be done out of order because you were aware of the reasons why someone else’s project got dibs on IT’s time. Furthermore, you had to jump through documentation hoops to get a chance to put something on the list at all, so there was a barrier to entry which prevented one’s whimsy from wasting our time.
I don’t think I’ve developed any cool boss tricks of my own yet. I’ve tried and discarded several ways of tracking projects, but in the end I always come back to my own version of the IT priorities list. The closest to H—– Days I’ve come is sending people home early a couple of times on slow days. (And the first time I did so, I was thwarted: my team was all involved with things they didn’t want to stop working on.) So, it’s still a work in progress. Sooner or later I’ll wind up with a management style of my own, I suppose, if only by accident!