According to research by Gallup, the most common reason why people leave their jobs is bad managers and bosses. The study, which questioned more than one million working Americans, revealed that 75% of workers who left their jobs did so because of their managers and not necessarily the position itself. No matter how many perks a position offers, people often quit when they don’t enjoy a healthy working relationship with their boss.
Most people get promoted to management because they did well at their previous non-management job. Just because you excelled in your individual contributor role doesn’t mean you can seamlessly transfer over those skills to a management role. For instance, when an all-star football player becomes a manager after retirement, success is not always replicated in their new role.
People often forget that management is a totally separate role. Yet, most people are promoted or rewarded with a “management role” for succeeding in their previous role. The skills required to manage a football player or a software engineer are different from being a good football player or a good software engineer.
Do Managers Even Know What People Expect From Them?
However, a bad manager is not a bad person. They are just unaware and trapped between a rock and a hard place. Managers are rarely trained or educated about how to do their job well. It’s no wonder that they end up managing people like they were managed. Most of them don’t even understand what management is and what people expect from them.
Transitioning from an individual role to a manager is one of the most challenging moves you can make in the corporate world. Becoming a manager comes with new responsibilities and requires a new perspective about work and the people involved. It also requires you to form new types of relationships with your former peers, your new colleagues, and other stakeholders.
Nobody shows new managers how to develop a leadership style that is authentic as well as results-driven. Such disregard for management skills can derail an individual’s career and negatively affect the organization’s productivity. Great managers don’t happen by accident. They learn from their mistakes and invest in developing their skills. I have worked with many great managers myself, and below is what I have learned about people’s expectations from their managers.
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A List of 8 Expectations From Managers That Employees Have
While it is almost never voiced, employees have certain expectations from their managers. The following are expectations you must fulfil when managing any group of people.
Employees want a trustworthy manager. If you don’t measure up, you will not get their best efforts. Trust is the bedrock of any organization’s success because it makes a big part of the organizational culture. Employees are more likely to actualize goals set by leaders they trust and are honest about what is happening in the organization. The best way of developing trust is leading by example and becoming a role model. Be the kind of manager you would expect to have.
It is easy to bark orders and tell people what to do or how to behave, but you can’t get away with preaching water and drinking wine. If you expect your people to be accountable, you need to hold yourself to a higher standard. So be the first one to uphold company values and hold others accountable who don’t. And yes, don’t consider your position as a license to slack off or use company resources for your own gain.
Employees expect managers to have a clear vision and know where the team is heading. This gives meaning and purpose to their work. Having a purpose motivates and inspires people to keep going in spite of the circumstances – which can be chaotic and dynamic. When faced with obstacles, they are less likely to get demotivated. Your vision, therefore, should be strong enough to carry your team through the tough times that will eventually come.
Visionary leadership provides clarity, as people will look up to you for providing direction. You need to spend time with the team regularly to discuss, revisit, or reshape the team’s purpose. Ensuring each member understands the team’s purpose and their role in the team will empower them to prioritize their tasks effectively.
Everyone wants to contribute to something bigger than themselves and make a difference. Strong leaders and great managers show people how their work impacts the customer and the wider benefits to the industry/society.
“When corporate executives get really excited, they leverage their learnings against comprehension to revolutionize English.”
― Tanya Thompson
3. Effective Communication
Effective communication leads to high employee engagement. Therefore, it is imperative to be clear, consistent, and transparent when communicating. Leaders should stop using complicated language or hiding behind jargon. Trust people and share information openly.
For instance, if you promote an employee, you might want to clarify why you made the choice. Likewise, if there has been a change in strategy, you might want to inform them how the change will impact the team’s objectives. The aim here is to filter out the unnecessary noise around the main message, which could be anything from corporate jargon that could cloud the message to a funny anecdote for the wrong audience.
Transparent communication is essential for building trust within your team. You should, therefore, communicate with your team openly and honestly. Share what you know when you know it to avoid rumors and misinformation. And when there are no clear answers, communicate the same.
You should also clarify when the information is subject to change and update it when it does. When you communicate openly and honestly, the message gets home, and employees will consider you more credible and trustworthy.
4. Psychological Safety
Make work fun by bringing the team together and creating a safe space where people can be themselves. Building a psychologically safe and inclusive team culture will encourage your employees to voice their opinions without fearing judgment. It will build stronger relationships that foster better collaboration. Moreover, it will inspire creativity and innovation. Consequently, you will have increased employee engagement and even higher performance.
You can create a psychologically safe environment in the workplace by embracing mistakes. Instead of calling out your employees when they err, give them permission to try and fail and allow them to come up with out-of-the-box ideas and solutions. This will create a culture that encourages learning from mistakes. Such freedom to experiment will also make work both educational and fun. In a safe environment, you don’t have to wear a mask and can be completely honest about what you know and what you don’t.
5. Career and Professional Development Support
Employees need continuous career and professional development support beyond the once or twice per year performance cycle. A year is too long a time to wait for feedback, and such evaluation is rarely based on data. Managers also often take a one-sided approach, taking it upon themselves to decide how good or bad an employee did.
Continuous career and professional development demand that you meet with your employees frequently. It is helpful to inform your employees about your shared goals and objectives and what milestones they need to reach within reasonable time frames. You may want to have frequent team meetings and one-on-one sessions.
Such meetings should be conversational. Instead of repeating what you already know, ask how the employee is fairing, and how you can help them get better. People are mostly unaware of how they can grow in their careers, and as a coach, you can help them figure this out. These conversations help provide clarity on how best to make meaningful progress.
Employees don’t want someone who just expects results without providing any resources or coaching support. So if you want better results, perhaps it’s time to roll up those sleeves and start coaching. Great managers see coaching as essential to their employees’ growth and development. It helps them become a better version of themselves. Check-in with each member of your team regularly and schedule one-on-ones no matter how busy you are. Use those meetings to learn about their challenges and help people see and overcome their own blind spots.
Coach people first before offering advice. Coaching enables long term behavior change, while advice is short term. The truth is people already have the answers to their challenges within themselves. Your only task is to help them learn how to find theirs. As a manager, you can see coaching as a tool to empower your people – helping you to take a hands-off approach. Coaching creates a space for people to express their feelings and validate their ideas. It says to them: I see you, I hear you, and I value you.
“If you focus on people’s weaknesses, they lose confidence.”
― Tom Rath
7. Strengths-Based Development
Too often, managers focus on an employee’s weaknesses. However, this approach drains people, and research has proven that strengths-based management works better. Understandably, no employee appreciates it when a manager highlights their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths. At the end of the day, people expect recognition and praise. Accordingly, you have to identify your employee’s talents and passions and focus your energy on improving them.
You can start by delegating responsibilities based on strengths. When your employees are doing what they are good at, they will be intrinsically motivated, and their performance will improve as a result. When evaluating this performance, center your performance review conversations on their strengths and how to better them. Also, do not forget to encourage them to align their goals with their strengths.
Focusing on weaknesses creates friction which leads to demotivation. Everyone has weaknesses. Who doesn’t? Stop making everyone into the “perfect” this or that. Accept people for who they are. Fixing people takes an “I know better” attitude. Instead “care” for your people. Great managers work together with people to see where learning is needed, rather than imposing their own standards. Focussing on strengths lead to work becoming more fun, in addition to enhanced productivity and employee well-being.
8. Autonomy in Work and Decision Making
A modern employee wants a leader who can coach them and not someone to tell them what to do. Micromanagement often kills motivation and engagement. Checking up on your team members at every chance you get lets them know you lack confidence in their skills and abilities. So instead of telling them what to do, let them take the lead on tasks. And when they get stuck on a project, guide them to figure out the solutions by themselves instead of providing all the answers.
If you hope to inspire your employees to be the best they can be, allow them to make decisions for themselves. For instance, let them decide how best to get their work done. At the end of the day, all that matters is that they create value for the company. Allowing your people to do what they do best without interference will, however, lead to better results in the long-run.
In an environment where people are free to make mistakes and failure is embraced as a learning opportunity, employees feel comfortable when trying new things. Give them ownership, so the work is theirs, not yours. This makes their tasks, their projects, and their responsibilities more meaningful.
When you are a manager, there is an initial belief that your team will naturally respect you and follow your lead, but nothing could be farther from the truth. On the contrary, it is your actions as a leader that will lead to high productivity, respect, and trust.
If you can’t live by your ideals and your company’s values, you will lose their trust and respect. While management isn’t about you, you must be able to manage yourself first before you can manage others. Ultimately, you want to inspire people and expand their capacity beyond what even they think is possible.