Are you a good boss? Would your staff agree? Does it bother you what opinion they have of you? It should, because being a good boss, whether you have two or 20 employees, is crucial to the long-term success of your small business. It’s that simple.

To explain why, let’s start with a couple of simple truths:

Truth no.1. Nobody wants to work for someone they don’t like.

Truth no.2. If your employees dislike you then you will never get the best out of them.

A good salary will never make up for having a boss you hate. People want more from their job than just a monthly wage; they want to feel their job has some meaning and to work somewhere that makes them happy. Most of all, they want to feel wanted and that feeling is created by you, their boss.

Learn to listen

Simply talking to your employees is the best way to create a feel good factor in your office. Don’t wait until it’s their performance review to ask them how they are and how everything’s going.

Bill Marriott, the executive chairman of the eponymous hotel chain, said the four most important words for any boss are “What do you think?” By asking your employees their opinion you make them feel valued. And who knows? You might learn something that you didn’t know.

Feeling part of a close-knit team – you could call it a family at work – is one of the biggest advantages a small business has over its bigger rivals. Nobody likes to feel like a cog in a machine, so having a boss who knows them and takes an interest in their wellbeing is an important element in making people want to come to work for you every day.

Finding out more about them will also help you understand how to get the most out of your employees. It’s inevitable that it will affect their work if people have problems at home, or if they feel frustrated or unhappy in their job.

Listening to their troubles and finding a way to help them, perhaps by allowing them to work flexibly or from home, may not cost you a penny, but will earn you plenty of goodwill from your staff members in the long run.

Another simple truth

But there is another truth about your business. It exists to make money. While you don’t want work to be all about the bottom line (where’s the fun in that?), if the business isn’t successful then no one will have a job. You want to treat your staff well, but you shouldn’t make it such a cosy, unchallenging place that the work doesn’t get done.

As the boss, you will have to make difficult decisions from time to time. Be as open as possible with your staff members in explaining the situation and outlining the potential solutions, and tell that you’d like to hear their opinions.

But make it clear that the final decision rests with you. Whatever you decide to do won’t find universal favour in the office, so making some of your staff members unhappy is unavoidable.

So try to minimise the pain that your choice causes and rally your troops around your decision by convincing them that it’s in the business’s best long-term interests. That task is made much easier if they like and respect you.

So it’s important to be a good boss. But in being a good boss it isn’t important to be everyone’s friend.