How do I keep employees motivated is a question so many people in a small business setting ask. Most small business owners decided to start their businesses either to fulfill a long-time dream or because they had such a hard time working for your know-it-all bosses.

Most people who have ever worked for a company they don’t own have one or two really bad experiences with a difficult boss. Most would have horror stories of “shark bosses,” or bosses who want to squeeze out of you every cent they pay you. These practices are highly ineffective, and may work to the company’s detriment – because nothing beats a loyal employee. An employee, no matter how low in position, helps the company achieve it true potential.

A boss who is unable to shield his teammates kills employee motivation. This is one of the qualities of a bad boss. Many managers that maintain the status of a real diplomatic person that does not antagonize clients, and customers become more important than right. Often, they are unable to protect their team from unfair accusations or demands and hostile situations. They say yes to every demand made and put their teammates into excessive workloads or trouble. They are unable to shield their mates from impatient and aggressive customers who put them under a lot of pressure with their demands.

Bosses and managers who avoid learning kill employee motivation. Since a manager is not expected always have the right answer, gaining knowledge requires one to get into deep research and evaluations to understand every department’s work, despite their earlier experience. Learning current trends is imperative, and a lack of that may lead to problems like procrastination, inaccurate estimation, workload issues, endless meetings, staff shortages, improper budgeting, email wars, daily conflicts, and being unable to make independent decisions. Lack of learning leads to bosses distancing themselves from understanding practical issues and the difficulties of a department. This kills employee motivation.

Below are some of the things bosses do that kill employee motivation and the qualities a manager should have to ensure all employees are productive.

1. A good boss is a good listener.

You need to listen to your employees, and not be the one yapping all the time. Like it or not, there may be times when your low-rank staff knows better than you. You have to be a good listener to realize this. You may have gold in your hands, yet not know it if you keep both your mind and ears closed.

2. A good boss does not blame their people.

Hey, ever heard of “command responsibility?” If you are a good boss, you must take the blame if ever your staff does something wrong. And if they do make mistakes, you must be able to nip it in the bud by listening and being aware of developments going on within your jurisdiction. Stop pointing fingers. Mistakes happen because the boss failed to notice that something bad is about to happen. Your staff may be ill-informed and that’s your fault too. With great power comes great responsibility.

3. A good boss is willing to do the dirty work.

They should sometimes be able to shed the well-pressed long sleeved shirt and tie to get their hands dirty. Your staff will respect you more for it, plus, it’s a great opportunity to prove that you know how to do what everybody else is doing.

4. A good boss is a good mentor.

A mentor is someone who teaches and guides people into improving and enhancing their knowledge and skills. You must be able to teach them “how it’s done,” and avoid being told by your own staff “how to do it.”

5. A good boss knows how to communicate.

You must be able to effectively relay both successes and problems to your employees. If a boss has problem employees, they must not be embarrassed or scared to tell them that they need to shape up.

6. A good boss keeps everyone’s morale up.

When things are not too rosy, then a good boss must be the morale booster of his own employees – encouraging them to be the best they can be.

7. A good boss is not caught unprepared.

Heard of bosses who failed to realize that an important resource vital to production is already depleted? Well then never be caught unaware and empty-handed. Worse comes to worse; the boss must find ways to search for things his team needs.

8. A good boss must be aware of what’s going on.

There may be issues brewing, and the boss failed to notice them at its onset. This leads to failure. Sometimes, it pays to listen to rumors or office gossip – it’s the only way you can catch existing problems and stop it while no major damage has yet been done.

9. A good boss recognizes the great performance of his employees.

There’s nothing more frustrating than working for a boss who does not notice great performance. It sends the message that “the boss couldn’t care less – you’re being paid to do the things that you do.”

10. A good boss understands employees.

A boss who does not realize that personal emergencies naturally happen in the lives of their employees needs to employ robots – not humans. Not allowing an employee to go to the dentist when their head is throbbing from the pain must have their teeth pulled – at work.

Not many bosses realize that their attitude towards employees could make or break them. A staff member you traumatized may seriously lose their self-confidence, thus encouraging them to become just a mere employee forever. Be kind – you’ll never know how you can affect your fellow man. Remember, there is a huge possibility that some of your employees will eventually do better in business than you will, and that someday, you just might find yourself being interviewed by your former secretary. The same people you met on your way up will be the same people you will encounter on your way down. Ironic, but true.