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Eight Keys to Managerial Success

Dr. Jack Wiley | July 16, 2021 | Research

I asked 80,000 workers worldwide what they most wanted from their immediate manager. They told me there were eight managerial attributes important to them. Five are behaviors – that is, actions managers use to adjust to or influence the behavior of others. One is a skill – a behavior performed with elevated competence. And two are values – personal standards by which behavior is judged.

The Five Behaviors 

  1. To show support and understanding. This attribute was identified more frequently than any other. Support refers to being present and accessible, providing help in daily activities, being encouraging and standing up for employees. Understanding first and foremost refers to listening, but it also means being considerate and friendly, paying attention to employee’s needs and difficulties and showing empathy.
     

  2. To provide recognition. Recognition is the second most frequently identified attribute employees prefer in their bosses. Recognition is psychological in nature: praising good work, giving employees credit for good ideas, acknowledging employees for their loyalty and recognizing their passions, skills and abilities.
     

  3. To treat employees with dignity and respect. In practice, this refers to the general notion of treating people well, as competent adults who want to make useful contributions. It is also about trusting employees, respecting diverse working styles, and showing concern for the safety and physical well-being of employees.
     

  4. To communicate clear performance expectations. Employees want managers to communicate work priorities, provide clear directions when needed, and deliver honest, helpful and timely performance feedback. They want to believe their work is important and understand how it connects to the larger mission of the organization.
     

  5. To reward performance contributions by ensuring fair compensation and providing developmental opportunities. This is fundamentally about a fair exchange. Employees bring their knowledge, skills and abilities to the job and for performing their work well they expect to be rewarded – via fair compensation as well as better job and career opportunities. They expect managers to match the rewards to the contribution.

The One Skill

  1. To demonstrate competence in problem-solving and decision-making. Employees want to work for managers who can – when needed – make good decisions quickly, and who can solve problems with appropriate and winning solutions. Basically, they want managers who can remove roadblocks that get in the way of getting the job done.


The Two Values

  1. To be just and fair. Managers who display this value ensure equal and fair treatment of all employees and act with objectivity and consistency. They judge people on the basis of their work performance and not on the basis on individual characteristics like gender, race or ethnic origin.
     

  2. To be honest and trustworthy. Managers who display this value tell the truth and lay out the facts as they are. They are sincere, frank, candid and forthright. They are reliable, act with integrity and operate from a set of strong moral principles – they are upright in their actions and treatment of others.

Net-net: These attributes are not difficult to understand – they simply represent the very fundamental attributes that employees most want in a boss. They define the employee-centric manager
 

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