The way we work today in the 21st century is very different from the way our forefathers worked 40 to 50 years ago. In the past, there was limited interaction between bosses, managers, and employees. People were fine with a fixed routine, a fixed task, and growth didn’t matter as long as there was food on the table. There was hardly any talk about motivation, self-development, or leadership. Bosses were managers, and they had to be feared and respected. You could not just walk into your boss’ room and demand a meeting. There were fewer open-door policies and instant communication did not exist. Fast forward to the 21st century, and things have changed drastically.
One of the most prominent changes lies in the fact that employees now have expectations from their managers instead of managers from employees. Employees could now choose to accept, reject or leave a job because of a bad boss. Employees now no longer want control and micro-management. Employees are now more aware, informed, and empowered. Managers today don’t have the leverage of a “Yes-boss” employee as they did ages ago. Today, employee productivity and satisfaction matters a great deal because it has a direct impact on company goals and brand image.
So, what exactly do employees want from their managers? A quick list.
- Transparency - gone are the days when important meetings were held behind closed doors and employees were kept in the dark. Today, employees want transparency. Starting a new project that has risks? They want to be informed. A quarter with low bonuses? Inform them. Facing a financial crisis? Inform them. Keeping your employees in the loop and being transparent about the direction of the company builds trust and loyalty. Your employees will even be so good as to come up with solutions to fix a problem and work together as a united team. It all depends on how ready you, the manager, are to being transparent.
- Trust and Value - They want you to trust them if they have already proven their mettle. They don’t want to be constantly micro-managed or told what to do. They want you to empower them enough to do their own tasks without interference or patronizing attitudes. They want to be valued for who they are and what they produce.
- Respect - It’s not very uncommon to see managers disrespecting their employees using sarcasm, taunts or negative remarks. We don’t need to show you the stats of people leaving their jobs because of bad managers. In today’s fiercely competitive world and dynamic workplace, you really can’t afford to lose valuable employees because of bad management.
- Flexibility - When we say flexibility it doesn’t mean tolerating negative behavior. It means cultivating positive behavior by removing unnecessary demands on time and performance. Even though we have 8 working hours, studies have proven that we are productive for only five hours a day, with the additional hours spent on breaks, lunch, trips to the loo, etc. Not to mention, work-from-home is another popular working style these days and one that most employees would readily apply for.
- Mentorship and Training - Employees want their managers to be their mentors and trainers. They look up to them as problem solvers, as someone who can help them perform better and grow in their careers. Unfortunately, though, most managers limit themselves to managing. Grow beyond your scope and start becoming a mentor.
- Accountability and Integrity - Big words! But they do hold immense importance. It’s easy for any manager to let the employee take a bullet should anything go wrong, but a true leader doesn’t resort to blame A true leader practices accountability and also instills that in his team members. When you train your employees to craft their own success pathways, you make them accountable for their own development.
- Equality - Favoritism and discrimination are not fancy terms. In the real world, managers are humans with biases, and they often let their biases get the best of them. While discriminating based on sex, religion or race is outright illegal and can result in a court case; favoritism is legit. So, unless you treat your employees equally, you’re never going to get the productivity, the loyalty, and the respect your company or you should be earning.
- Proactiveness - If an employee failed to deliver a project in time due to any unforeseen circumstances, as a manager, what would your immediate reaction be? Would you call them in and give a good lecture? Will you panic and create more chaos? Will you fire them? If you said YES to all this, you are a reactive manager who will have a hard time resolving problems. Being proactive means you don’t focus on WHO caused the problem, but rather you should focus on HOW the problem can be resolved immediately. Later, you can identify the lessons learnt and how to use those lessons to prevent further mishaps. This is difficult to implement, but practice it long enough and you’ll notice a visible difference. Employees are afraid of reaction, and some may even defy it. But proactiveness wins everyone’s attention.
- Organized and Creates Processes - Employees will have a hard time flourishing under unorganized managers. You need to be up at your game and have processes people can follow. You need to be a go-getter and have very clear visions of company goals and how to achieve them. The more you can align your employees to your company goals, the better your chances of creating a thriving work environment.
So far, we’ve covered what employees want from their managers. Ever thought what they didn’t want is exactly what you’ve been doing all this time with weird outcomes? Here are a few common issues.
What Employees Don’t Want from their Bosses
- Friendship - If you think being a buddy with your employee is going to make them happy and productive, you’re wrong. The problem with being a buddy-buddy is that you remove the line between personal and professional relations. That being said, you can’t control a friendship from striking, but it rarely works out when one is the boss of another. More importantly, employees don’t want their bosses to be friends - they simply want their boss to be a good boss. So “make friends with your employees” won’t work in the long run.
- Patronizing Attitude: If you think an employee is not performing well, have them undergo a professional evaluation procedure. Avoid patronizing them and making it worse. The last thing they need is a manager who says, “I told you so.”
- Rhetoric Communication: Rhetoric only works if you are a politician. If you’re a manager, avoid rhetoric and get straight to facts. Your employees are not the soldiers of 300 who are motivated through a sheer power pep-talk. They need facts, updates, and reports.
- Condescending Behavior: No matter how smart you are. No matter your age or your experience. Condescending behavior is harmful, demotivating, and generally unacceptable.
- Command and Control: Your employees are not soldiers. They are people who are paid to do a good job in collaboration WITH you, not UNDER you. Replace command and control with teamwork and directions.
- Office politics and Gossips: We can’t stress this enough. If a manager is not getting along well with one employee, he should not discuss that with another employee. Gossip and office politics from a management level is low-bar, unethical, and a strong cultivator of toxic work environments. This could result in your employees leaving in hordes.
It’s important to remember that management today is about effective leadership, collaboration, and teamwork. While firmness is necessary, it should not translate to abuse or control. This is why it is even more necessary for managers to get updated trainings on organizational behavior, organizational psychology, and organizational management. Be prepared for the future because things are changing.