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October 2012
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What Do Employees Want from Their Managers?

Posted by: Reena Jamnadas & Emma Trenier


Whatever our role or level in an organisation, we all have high expectations of our bosses. In particular, we want them to understand our strengths and preferences and tailor their approach to our needs – this came across loud and clear from the 1180 respondents in Capp’s recent Ideal Manager Survey.


We also place enormous value in this relationship working positively for us – a miserable, ineffective relationship with their line manager is the most common reason behind an employee’s decision to leave a company.


The results of Capp’s Ideal Manager Survey showed that 90% of employees disagreed that all managers should manage in the same way. This appreciation of diverse management styles was also shown in the breadth and range of strengths which employees thought were important for their managers.


Notwithstanding this, we see that employees most commonly want their managers to have the following strengths:


  • Mission: Providing a sense of meaning and purpose, always working towards a longer-term goal;


  • Enabler: Focused on creating the right conditions for people to grow and develop for themselves;


  • Personal Responsibility:  Taking ownership of their decisions and holding themselves accountable for what they do;


  • Humility: Happy for others to share the credit for their team’s successes;


  • Esteem Builder: Able to help people believe in themselves and see what they are capable of achieving.


Do any of these strengths surprise you? Perhaps not, as this simple profile paints a picture of a trusted individual who leads through a combination of clear vision, personal commitment and a focus on developing others.


How can you develop these characteristics within your management style? Here are our five top tips:


  • Create a sense of purpose: Understand what drives each of your team members and gives them a sense of meaning in their work. As you delegate work, help individuals to see how it relates to this wider sense of meaning. In practice: this means spending time talking about context before focusing on detail.


  • Role model responsibility:  If you want your team to develop their personal responsibility, choose a handful of areas in which you will actively demonstrate how you do this yourself. In practice: as well as taking responsibility yourself, take responsibility for training your team to do the same.


  • Share successes: Recognise the culture and climate that you want to build within your team.  If it is one of shared ownership and collaboration, then seek to share team successes in ways that credentialise others. In practice: share credit with others in a range of ways including public praise, copying senior managers into positive feedback emails, and thanking individuals one to one.


  • Give specific positive feedback: Think about providing positive feedback just as carefully as giving ‘constructive’ feedback. Let people know what they have done well and what you would like them to keep doing. In practice: give specific, targeted feedback, along with evidence, when you see great work.


  • Set your team up to succeed: Find opportunities to stretch each person in your team and provide the autonomy for them to take full ownership. In practice: identify each person’s strengths so that you align opportunities to these strengths and can be sure the opportunity will provide a positive stretch.


By managing in this way, you’ll be taking important to steps to delivering your employees what they want, in turn helping you to deliver the performance you need.


Download Capp’s Performance Manager White Paper to find out more about what people want from their managers.


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