My Best Boss Ever

  • women powering business
  • October 16, 2014
In honor of National Boss’s Day, five Randstad women leaders shared memories of outstanding bosses who have helped shape their careers. Read their stories and find out how a great boss can make a real difference in the lives of employees. 

The Power of Thank You
Rebecca L. Harrell, Regional Vice President, Randstad US

I had one boss from early in my career who taught me so much and was truly a great mentor. He was the president of the company I worked for, and I managed his operations. He had many great qualities as a leader, but three really come to mind: character, competence and commitment. Although he had a great sense of humor, his character really stood out to me. He was always open and honest, but most of all, he was trustworthy. He believed you had to have a strong foundation of trust or the relationship could not be sustainable. In regards to his competency, he knew how to lead his division to the next level through his vision and strategy. He knew when to take calculated risks or when to stay the course. Last, he had strong commitment not only to the company, but also specifically to his employees. He believed your commitment was the backbone, and it was what gave you the focus and strength to do your job.

There were two lessons I remember him telling me that I use to this day. The first one was the power of “thank you.” Every day he would thank me before he left the office. Those two words are impactful and truly made a difference to me as I progressed through my career. I still utilize that daily lesson within my own teams. They need to know I truly appreciate them and all of their effort. Second lesson learned was to stop talking and start listening. It sounds simple, but we miss so much by trying to solve the problem. I have always used the quote by Stephen Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” We can learn so much from our employees by talking less and listening more, which will lead to trust and credibility with your teams.

To be considered a good boss, the most important thing to remember is the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. It sounds simple, but it’s hard to always get it right. It takes work and commitment, but you will gain more respect and trust with your employees if you offer them the same courtesy you would like to receive.

Be Clear in Your Expectations
Kim Fahey, Vice President, Global Client Solutions

I am very fortunate that I’ve had only good managers in my career, so it is challenging to pick a favorite. But I do credit a lot of my success to my very first manager at my very first “grown-up job” working at a small, woman-owned recruiting firm where I was hired to make marketing calls. My first manager set very clear expectations of what she needed from me and what she would offer to me in return. There was no mystification, no surprises. She trusted me, a 23-year-old recent grad, to be the voice of her business out in the world. She empowered me to get the work done with very limited boundaries.

I give this manager a significant credit to my success when she told me when I wasn’t keeping up my side of the deal. It was an important lesson for my career. I had begun to be complacent, and honestly, I wasn’t doing a good job. It just took one conversation. I was thoroughly embarrassed by my behavior and quickly got myself back on track. I have never had another manager pull me aside for not completing my commitments, and I know it is because of this early career wake-up call.

To be a good boss, you must be clear in your expectations. Communicate; it is better to say “I don’t know the answer” than to keep silent. And remember your employees are people. That doesn’t mean that you should be best friends with your employees, but regularly checking in with the humans working for you, not just overseeing headcount, is crucial for everyone’s long term success.

Remember Where You Came From
Denise Dettingmeijer, CFO, Randstad North America

My best boss ever is Peter Vermeeren. It was early in my career, and he was close to retirement. For me, it was the perfect time to be working with someone of his caliber. Peter had the experience and qualities of a seasoned executive, which you learned by simply working with him. He led with a calm, matter-of-fact style. What stood out about Peter was his ability to stretch you to your limits without you even being aware of it and allowing you to gain once-in-a-lifetime experiences that were perceived, at the time, as simple assignments.

I learned many lessons from Peter that are still with me today. A few that made the most impact are:
  • Creating the perfect org chart is perfect until you put in the first name—nobody is perfect.
  • Get to know your customers personally­—and not for the first time when there is a problem.
  • Trust is a choice—you don’t need to make people earn your trust. If trust is violated, it’s permanent.
  • Working massive hours is a sign that your processes are out of control. Fix them, but no need to let everyone see that in the meantime.
  • Never e-mail in late hours or on weekends. It’s a sign of the third bullet point, as well as a sign to your team that you expect the same (no matter what you say in your e-mail).
The most important thing to remember when managing other employees: Remember where you came from. Stay hungry, stay humble.

Stretch Your Employees, Mentor Along the Way
Michelle Prince SVP, Talent Management, Randstad North America

My best boss ever was the one who saw more potential in me than I saw in myself. She pushed me outside my comfort zone, challenged me to think about the “bigger picture” and assigned me to a role I was not quite ready for. I grew more under her leadership than anyone I’ve worked for. She was willing to stretch people and was there to support and mentor you along the way. But she was also tough in that she held people accountable to deliver commitments. Years later, I’ve continued to role model myself after her leadership in many ways.

I learned to take risks and that it’s okay to not know 100 percent of a job before “going for it.” I learned to come up with creative solutions vs. costly solutions to issues—especially when budgets are tight. To be considered a good boss, the most important thing to remember when managing other employees is that it’s really about them, not you. 

People Want to Feel Valued, Appreciated and a Part of Something
Chandelle Fairley, Managing Director, Randstad Technologies

My current boss, Steve Hurst, is by far the best boss I have ever had. First and foremost, he allows me to completely be myself and talk to him about anything. From the day I started, he believed in me and always had my back. We grew the Charlotte market together and throughout the entire experience, he and I were connected and locked arms on his strategy for the market. Steve commands respect when he walks into a room, and because of his experience and knowledge of the staffing industry and managing people, you want to listen.

He has challenged me more over the last six years than any boss I have ever worked with and has provided incredible coaching and development, which has helped me to considerably accelerate in my career. One important lesson he taught me is to never compromise integrity for the sake of business. We always “do the right thing” in Steve’s region. He’s a man of integrity and pours life into all of his people each day. One of his famous quotes is that “people want to feel valued, appreciated and a part of something.” He lives that quote every day and anyone on his team will tell you that they feel that way!