Employees tell bosses where to change to unlock productivity

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Research from talent management company DDI among employees across the globe* reveals the areas managers and leaders need to improve in, in order to win over the hearts and minds of their employees. Compared to employees’ current manager, their ‘best-ever’ boss was 23% better at helping them be more productive, 22% better at giving feedback on their performance and 21% better at handling workplace conflict. Respondents also reported that their current leader is 20% worse at recognising their achievements or helping them solve problems without solving them for them.

‘Lessons for Leaders from the People Who Matter’, released in February, includes data from a survey undertaken for DDI by Harris Interactive©. This spoke to over 1,250 full-time employees in non-management positions in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, India, Germany and South East Asia (Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore), and found that two in five respondents (39%) said they had left a job primarily because of what their boss at the time did.

Simon Mitchell, Director at DDI UK and one of the report authors, says: “The opinion of the people being managed is the one that really counts. The difference between people’s current leader and their ‘best-ever’ is highly significant. Even something as straightforward as giving feedback is an area where an enormous difference can be made to an employee’s motivation.”

For those in the survey who reported their manager never gave them sufficient feedback on their performance, just 21% felt they were motivated to give their best most of the time or always. For those who always received sufficient feedback, this rose to a staggering 91%. A similar correlation between motivation and managers who show greater degrees of empathy with staff is also clear.

Mitchell continues, “People are not looking for their leader to be their friend, they want someone who can manage them well. But workers have little faith in their bosses’ skills and are often hurt and demotivated by their actions”.

It seems there are huge productivity gains that businesses to be made by creating better leaders. Employees themselves estimate that the increase in productively is equal to a whole extra person for every two to three people managed by their ‘best-ever’ leader

“In the current environment, managers ability to lead is being tested more than ever and the quality of leadership arguably makes a much bigger impact than when times are easier. Organisations need to ensure leaders have the basic skills that employees rate most highly.”

Respondents identified the traits of their ‘best-ever’ leaders as (in descending order):

  1. Recognised me appropriately for my work and achievements
  2. Supported me without taking over
  3. Involved me in decisions
  4. Listened to me
  5. Took the time to explain the rationale for their decisions
  6. Took care to maintain my self-esteem


Employee comments when discussing the worst habits of their managers provide context to the report findings :

“One manager had quite dramatic mood swings and nobody could ever tell what brought them on or when it was going to happen”

“Lack of communication with me and unwillingness to support me”

“She’s never around when you need her and never seems to do anything”

“Belittling my abilities”

“Lack of transparency.”

“Pursuing their own ambition and politics at expense of his team.”

“Self-righteous. Likes to brag. Autocratic. Selfish.”

“Pushes me aside and does my work for me.”

“He prefers certain people.”

“Asking impossible tasks”

“Screaming and using profanity towards me when I made small errors”

* For the purposes of this study, employees around the globe refer to those age 18+ who identified their position as either entry level, administrative, clerical, professional, or technical staff from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, and South East Asia (Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore).

 

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