What Are Employees Looking for in a Boss?




So what are employees looking for in a boss? Well, low performers are looking for a boss who is hands-off and tries to treat everybody exactly the same. Low performers want a boss who doesn't know who is doing what, where, why, when, and how. Low performers want a boss who doesn't keep track, a boss who ignores performance problems. Low performers want a boss who doesn't tell them what to do. Low performers want a boss who doesn't tell them how to do it, who doesn't spell out expectations. Low performers want to be left alone to hide out and collect the same paycheck as everybody else, regardless of their low performance. Low performers are the great beneficiaries of undermanagement. They are drawn to undermanagers the way vermin are drawn to dark cold places.

On the other hand, high performers want a boss who is strong and highly engaged, who knows exactly who they are, exactly what they are doing and is in a position to help them. High performers want a boss who lets them know that they are important and that their work is important. High performers want a boss who spells out expectations clearly; who teaches them the best practices; who warns them of the pitfalls. High performers want a boss who helps them solve small problems before they fester and grow. High performers want a boss who rewards them when they go the extra mile. High performers want a boss who will clear the low performers out of the way. High performers are always looking for strong managers who can set them up for success and help them earn what they need and want from the job, every step of the way. Strong hands-on managers are like magnets for high performers.

What about the vast majority of employees who are somewhere in the middle ground between high performance and low? Well, you will get out of them exactly what you put in--in almost exact proportion to how much technique, time, and energy you put into managing them.

If you are hands-off and treat everybody the same, then you'll be treating employees like low performers. You will undermanage most of them into a slow downward spiral. And you will attract more low performers who want to "work for you." If you are strong and highly engaged, then you are treating your employees like high performers. You will manage most of them into a steady upward spiral. And high performers will beat down your door for the chance to work for you.

It comes down to this: What kind of employees do you want looking for you? What kind of boss are you going to be?

BONUS MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICE
Keep a journal this week so you can take notes. Try to catch yourself in the act of undermanagement. Whenever you catch yourself in the act of providing too little guidance, direction, and support...or are tempted to provide too little guidance, direction, and support...STOP yourself. Ask yourself:

  • Why am I tempted to undermanage here?
  • What could go wrong if I don't step in?
  • Who needs my guidance and direction here?
  • What guidance and direction is called for?
  • What should I write down?
  • When should I follow up?

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