What Employees Want From Their Managers
Recent research published by consultancy Karian & Box points to four keys things that employees want from their managers in 2022. This is not dissimilar to the wants and needs pre-pandemic but it seems that employees are becoming more choosey and less patient than ever. In a nutshell and with more job vacancies than people right now, if they don’t get what they want then they’re off to pastures new. Employee engagement remains as important as ever.
Let’s look at each of these factors in turn. As we examine each one, ask yourself how well do these factors relate to where you work?
Be timely: share information and provide access to resources in a timely manner.
Employees crave information to enable them to perform the tasks they are being asked to do. This means information needs to be passed quickly whilst it’s still current. But it also needs to be articulated and shared in a way that suits the audience. Don’t over rely on email or messaging by the internal communications platform. Face-to-face communication still rates high on the desired communication methods. People need to check for understanding – and so will you. Email and other electronic broadcasts do not allow this two-way communication.
Employees also need the resources to undertake the tasks you are asking them to perform. Whether it’s computer hardware or the appropriate clothing (e.g. PPE or a uniform) people need the tools to do the job. And don’t ignore the softer elements too. Only this week a senior manager was telling me how a team member felt excluded because he hadn’t been given a company polo shirt when others had. This impacted employee engagement levels.
Give feedback: give regular feedback and coaching that supports my development
We have covered the art and science of giving feedback in earlier blog articles so we don’t intend to cover this here. Instead, we need to ask ourselves how often as well as how well do we give feedback to our team members?
When giving feedback don’t just rely on the formal performance review process that your company has designed for you. Make sure that your feedback is, whenever possible and appropriate, delivered in the moment or at least as close to the event as is reasonably possible. For example, if I score a goal on a Saturday I don’t want to be hugged on a Wednesday.
One important point to remember when giving feedback is to remember to deliver it in an emotionally intelligent way. Sometimes we can be so overcome by our emotional state that, if the feedback is delivered in the 'here and now', we may deliver it at a time when we are in our fight and flight mode. This may not be helpful. Equally, the team member may also not be in the best emotional state to receive the feedback either. At times such as these, it is best just to defer (but not avoid) giving the feedback message.
Link feedback and coaching together. Our blog Become a Coach Rather Than a Critic provides top tips and advice on how to go about this.
Our message on feedback is clear - make an effort to go and find your team members doing something right and tell them. If they need correcting then provide them with this feedback too. However, remember that the ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback needs to be 5:1 so avoid the feedback sandwich. This method is out of date and does not work.
Recognise: celebrate my successes
As human beings we have two basic needs. Our first is to survive. This is something we are hardwired to do. The second is to feel good. This is something we are constantly seeking through our actions and behaviours. Self-esteem and self-worth are vital to us all.
We can see how the role of receiving feedback plays its part here. But recognition goes further. Recognition provides intrinsic motivation so when a task is performed well and/or completed then the team member will respond to a thank you or maybe something more tangible. Providing recognition in this way does come with some caveats:
- Some people prefer to be recognised publicly and others less so. Make sure you know how your team members prefer to receive their accolades. For some employees public recognition can become an own goal because they feel at best embarrassed or at worst humiliated. Know your audience.
- Be careful when considering a gift or some other way of recognising a team member. For example, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach of buying everyone a bottle of wine will fall flat for those team members who do not like wine or even drink alcohol. Again, know your audience.
So be alongside your team members and celebrate with them. Know your audience so you can make it as personal to them as is possible. Most of the time a genuine thank you is enough, whether it’s preferred in public or in private.
Involve: involve me in decisions that affect me
One aspect of work that has been affected by the pandemic is people’s desire for greater autonomy. This is best illustrated by how many workers want to choose how and where they work. The hybrid-working debate goes on.
Let’s take a step back and examine what’s going on here. If we think back to not too long ago the relationship between employer and employee was this:
‘We pay your wages so you do what you are told’.
Post-pandemic this dynamic has changed for many employees. The days of command and control are well and truly over for many organisations. Employee voice has taken on more importance as people want more say in how they work as well as where they work.
This desire for increased autonomy is something that can be harnessed by those companies and organisations who genuinely pay attention to their levels of employee engagement. Team members are very often the 'canary in the coal mine' telling you when things could be improved or opportunities that are being missed. Giving team members opportunities to get involved creates that sense of engagement that goes on to create that all important discretionary effort.
Giving team members a say and involvement can also become another strand of your employee engagement strategy for another reason too. If you cannot afford to pay employees as much as they would like, then why not give them more involvement and control in things that are really important to them e.g.:
- Let them choose to buy or sell holiday leave
- Give them a choice of the employee benefits that you offer
- Ask them what shift patterns or working hours would suit them the best
Although these are examples and may not all apply to where you work, the point that I am making is that work-life balance and mental health have taken on greater significance post-pandemic. Employees want and will seek more autonomy and greater involvement in how they work.
To conclude the psychological contract between employee and employer remains a leadership and management imperative. Pay attention to each of these four areas across each of your teams. Look after your people and they will take care of your business.
Director & Senior Consultant, Beyond Theory