In my blogs to date, I have spent a lot of time exploring employee engagement and what makes an engaging leader. The question that is posed from all of this is ‘what do employees want from their manager?’
Knowing the answer to the question ‘what do employees want from their manager?’ provides key insights to how employees can be engaged, motivated and to be happy at work. As I have stated in previous articles in my blog, every employee comes to work with an Ask. They want something from their manager, from their job and from the whole working experience that goes beyond a salary.
In this blog post, I will look at what employees want from their manager before reflecting on what employees want from their job next time.
What do employees want from their manager?
In my business, I come into contact with a lot of managers, both experienced and new. Discussing the topic of what their employees want from them is a common topic whether I am delivering leadership development programme or working on employee engagement strategies. I have been particularly interested in the thoughts of new managers, moving into the role for the first time.
They have very fresh experiences of being managed and also have an eye on being a manager of people. They are excited and nervous about their new roles, keen to learn from their experiences and be a good leader. It is this group that has provided the insights highlighted below.
Employees Want Their Managers to:
Make it safe to contribute
Many authors write about employees wanting recognition. This is true. However, recognition is much more genuine and sincere when employees feel a valued part of the team. This means that they need to feel safe to contribute, make suggestions and solve problems. Otherwise, recognition may just be perceived as a platitude, something the manager feels obliged to do.
Employees want their managers to create the conditions and culture within their team where team members feel safe to speak up.
Show honesty & integrity
Honesty and integrity from a manager is crucial to providing this psychological safety. Employees want straight, honest communication. Honesty in leadership is about giving employees genuine feedback. Integrity in leadership is about doing the right thing with honour and respect.
Employees want a manager who is willing to give them straight feedback, no matter if it is good or not, because it is the right thing to do.
Communicate clearly, then let me get on with it
Honesty and integrity is fundamental to this point. The need for clear communication from managers comes up time and again. It is more than that, though. Managers need to clearly communicate expectations and requirements. Then they need the manager to stand back and let them get on with the job.
Employees need their manager to communicate clearly and then trust the employee’s ability and competence to carry out the job competently and give them the space to do so.
Be consistent in behaviour and across the company
Consistency of behaviour is crucial to psychological safety in a team. Employees must be able to predict how their manager will communicate, behave and react in most situations. If there is doubt about how a manager will behave, then psychological safety cannot be achieved.
‘Manager’s discretion’ is a term often used within organisations, often by HR, when employees seek clarification on policy. This creates such a problem where some employees see other managers using their discretion when interpreting policy to benefit team members. Meanwhile, their manager interprets the policy very differently with no real benefit for team members.
Employees want their manager to behave consistently in team matters and also to seek consistency across the organisation when interpreting policy so employees feel they are treated fairly.
Treat all team members fairly
We can see from the last point that fairness is very important to employees. They need to see that all team members are treated fairly and held accountable to the same standards. When this happens, employees can focus on meeting these standards and doing the job to the best of their ability rather than being frustrated by some colleagues ‘getting an easier run’.
Employees want their manager to be fair in how they deal with all team members and to be clear about the standards to be achieved.