What Do Employees Want from Their Managers?

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By Lindsay Alarid

Account Executive

Managers are critical to fostering an effective workplace experience for their teams. Have a supportive and encouraging manager? You’re more likely to be satisfied with your role. But if your boss is constantly critical, condescending, or overbearing, the chances are higher that you’ll experience resentment about both your position and your company.

Discover how managers can strike a balance between leading and micromanaging.

I recently received advice from a retired businessman with 20+ years of management experience. He told me to take a piece of paper and on one side, write down all the exceptional things that my manager does to facilitate a more positive workplace culture. After flipping the page, the man then told me to jot down all the things that I’ve seen my managers do that I would never want to replicate in a leadership position.

This businessman told me to be mindful of how these things—both good and bad—made me feel. He continued by saying, “Keep adding to the list throughout your career—it will become better than a book on management you can buy.”

This got me thinking: what are the top four things employees look for in their managers?  Below is a list of pivotal characteristics that every manager should prioritize when leading their workplace teams.

1. Trust

Integral to the success of any manager-subordinate relationship, the establishment of mutual trust must be emphasized as a significant priority in the workplace. Not only does trust enhance teamwork and collaboration, but it improves engagement and promotes a more positive organizational culture. Research shows that teams with trusting relationships vastly outperform those with an absence of faith in one another.

2. Flexibility

The definition of workplace flexibility has changed significantly since the start of the pandemic. In today’s world, managers can demonstrate flexibility by permitting remote work opportunities or non-traditional work schedules. Adjusting traditional workplace rules in support of employees’ personal responsibilities can go a long way in fostering trust and mutual respect between managers and their subordinates.

3. Positive reinforcement

People are hardwired to respond better to positive feedback. That’s why it’s more impactful to focus more on what your employees are doing right and less on what they’re doing wrong. While constructive criticism is still an important part of personal growth and development, managers must prioritize the cultivation of a recognition-rich environment. If you reward good behavior, it’s more likely to be repeated!

4. Transparency

Remember the old saying, “Honesty is the best policy”? The same rings true in the workplace. By providing clear direction and explicitly laying out the goals and expectations of each team member, managers can enhance the effectiveness of their teams and produce exceptional workplace results. In addition, owning up to their individual mistakes—or those made by their team—can help managers become more admired by their subordinates. If leaders are intent on establishing a culture that revolves around trust, then valuing transparency and integrity is critical to success.

Are you a manager preparing for upcoming performance reviews? Learn how to conduct proper performance appraisals during COVID-19.

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