I recently saw The Devil Wears Prada, which is about a young intern (played by Anne Hathaway) who has to work for a demanding editor of a high- end fashion magazine. Miranda Priestly is played by Meryl Streep, and Priestly is supposedly based on Vogue editor Anna Wintour. For those who are currently interning, I’m sure there are scenes from that film you can relate to.
Hathaway’s character is constantly being monitored, judged and criticized by her boss. However, what if Priestly was put under the microscope — would she pass an evaluation for being a good boss?
Brian W. Pascal, president of Institute of Professional Management and publisher of Workplace Today (www.workplace.ca), says evaluations of bosses by employees wouldn’t help the workforce.
“Performance management is a management prerogative to be done by management,” he says. “It’s what they’re paid to do. Nobody pays employees to do this.”
Pascal says consistency in performance feedback and setting performance objectives are the essentials of a good boss.
Debra Benton, author of Executive Charisma, How To Think Like A CEO and How To Act Like A CEO, says a good leader not only gets results, but motivates staff appropriately.
“A good boss is trustworthy, liked, credible, genuine, confident, competent, comfortable, calm, collected, maybe even a little charismatic,” she lists. “He or she makes people do better and feel better about themselves.”
Unlike Pascal, Benton thinks a little accountability towards their employees in terms of an evaluation can be a good thing — in fact, some workplaces use a 360 degree evaluation.
“These evaluations are often used for senior managers and executives to find out how their people feel,” she says. The biggest mistake a boss can make?
“Creating an environment where people are afraid to fail and therefore afraid to try something,” Benton says.
If you’re stuck with a boss like Priestly, Benton suggests talking things out before it escalates.
“Have a relaxed tone, facial expression and ask questions about the issue to get their point of view,” she says.
“Don’t ignore or hope the problem will go away — it won’t.”
Once you have a clear picture, make your point of view in a direct way and discuss how you can both get what you need in the situation, she says.
Remember to keep your sense of humour during all this and accept the unacceptable for now. We all know we have to pay our dues and will experience a Miranda Priestly during some point in our careers.