Management Training Tips:
Ten Things Employees Want from Their Manager

By James A. Baker
Management Training Institute
February 2009

Much has been said and written about the art and science of managing people. People earn degrees in the subject and they compose dissertations about it. Management skills is one of the most often requested corporate training classes we deliver at Baker Communications. However, when you cut through all the theory and opinions, it turns out that being a good manager isn’t really rocket science. After all, management is all about helping people succeed. In some ways, it is kind of like the Golden Rule. If you learn to treat people the way you would like to be treated, you are well on your way to being a great manager.

Here are 10 things your team members would like for you to start doing right now that would help them become more satisfied and successful:

1) They want to know what you expect. If they don’t know, they will either guess, or decide not to act until they know. Neither of these is a choice you want them to make. Lay out your expectations, both individually and for the whole team.

2) They want you to be reasonable. Your workers want you to set reasonable performance targets, and give them the resources they need to hit those targets.

3) They want to know how they’re doing. Give your workers frequent feedback on their performance and how it compares to your expectations and those of the company.

4) They want to know how to improve. Your feedback should help your team meet the expectations that you set. Remember that offering regular, minor course corrections are almost always better and more effective than fewer, bigger, less frequent corrections.

5) Workers want you to treat them fairly and consistently. Behavior and performance should have consequences. The two should match up. Good behavior and performance should generate positive consequences. Poor behavior or performance should generate negative consequences.

6) They want work that is interesting. For some people, the challenge of doing excellent work is enough. For others, the nature of their job is interesting and challenging in and of itself. However, for most employees, you have to keep things interesting by helping people grow and develop, and by setting up competitions and comparisons that will motivate them to constantly excel.

7) They want work that is meaningful. Take advantage of every opportunity to express appreciation to the people who work for you and emphasize to them how their work helps the team succeed. Also, explain clearly and often how the work of the team helps the company succeed.

8) They want to work in a safe and congenial place. Part of your job as a manager is to protect your employees. Workers want – and have a right – to be physically safe. They also have a right to be free from harassment or unreasonable demands or punishments.

9) They want you to deal with bad attitudes and anything that contributes to a negative working atmosphere. You’re the boss, so it’s your responsibility to identify and deal with malcontents and malingerers. Give them the opportunity to mend their ways. If they don’t, get rid of them.

10) They want as much control as possible over their work life. Give people as much freedom as possible to make the decisions about how, when, and where they’ll work. Employees who feel their opinions are appreciated, and who are given the opportunity to choose how their workload is distributed, are better motivated, more productive and more satisfied.

Most of these items are easy to implement. There’s nothing on the list that requires massive effort or significant budget expenditure.

Most supervisors will do some of these things easily and naturally. The trick is to do them all, day after day, with unremitting diligence. Then you get a cumulative effect. Taken together, these simple acts can transform your team into a group with high morale and excellent productivity. This is good for you, too, and in the end, it will boost the company’s bottom line, which is good for everybody.

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