What do employees really want from their leaders?
Not everyone is cut out to be the one in charge. Being a great boss relies somewhat on having a gregarious personality and a touch of a popular vibe. However, that’s only a tiny part of what leadership entails. If day-to-day business activities seem strained, a good boss will evaluate their actions and make appropriate adjustments. Then good leaders reach out and ask what their employees think. Of all the education leaders receive, the most relevant is feedback from the ones in the trenches.
Some bosses might feel asking for employee feedback will create a culture of negativity. What they discover, however, just might shock them. So, what do employees really want in a boss? Let’s take a look at the employee wish list of 10 qualities and practices of stellar leaders.
10 qualities and practices of stellar bosses
- Accountability: Deep down, employees want their superior to hold them accountable. Likewise, they want to know their superior is holding their colleagues to a similar standard. No one truly likes a leader who lets the employees slack.
- Professionalism: Bosses must be professional in all areas. If leaders speak out of turn about their employees, they have let their professional veil drop. No one wants to feel the insecurity of a boss who talks about others. That means the boss is also talking about them.
- Approachable Personality: Employees all want an approachable superior. If the boss is always busy, it sends a message that what the employee has to say is unimportant. Employees don’t usually bother the boss unless the issue is pressing. Approachable leaders who value their employees’ concerns are the gold standard of bosses.
- Follow-up Validation: Following-up on previous work-related conversations is a sign of an invested boss. Employees feel validated when the boss reconnects with them to get an update. This engagement tells the employee the boss knows their role and is interested in their work.
- Genuine Praise: A little praise goes a long way. A superior who tells an employee they are doing a great job knows positive reinforcement is the key to maintaining a happy, productive workforce.
- Sincere Interest: Leaders who express an interest in employees’ lives outside of work make a huge impression. Employees appreciate this gesture of caring and respect.
- Great Communication: Superiors who make every effort to keep employees informed have a much happier workforce, for obvious reasons. Similarly, bosses who take the time to provide mentors for employees dodge future problems. Employees, especially new employees, need guidance and training so they feel like a part of the work culture. Leaders who do not provide adequate training create frustrated, unhappy employees. And guess what — disgruntled employees start looking elsewhere.
- Small Rewards: Bosses who give employees small surprises and rewards now and then boost productivity. What’s even better is if the reward is not mass distributed. An employee who receives a personal reward for a job well done will continue to outperform others. However, bosses must be sure to keep the rewards genuine and not give a reward that seems forced. Having a checklist of criterion or a standard is always a good way to keep rewards fair and meaningful.
- Respectful Confrontation: A difficult part of any boss’s job is confrontation with employees. Being the boss sometimes means having those hard conversations. Employees generally know they have crossed a line. So, approaching them privately and speaking in a calm, respectful tone should should lay the groundwork for the rest of the conversation. Leaders should be aware that timing is everything. For desired results, bosses should think about when the conversation is best for the employee.
- Fair Treatment: Employees want their superiors to treat them fairly. They want to know their potential for advancement is the same as their colleagues’. If they are passed up for a promotion or reward, they deserve honest answers and suggestions to improve.
Being a great boss is being a good listener and intuitive to employee needs. And the responsibility does not stop there. Great leaders don’t just listen; they take the time to address employee problems and concerns. Additionally, giving proper training, holding all employees accountable at the same level, and showing appreciation are must-do practices. By creating a positive work culture, everyone works toward the company mission and maintains company values. No boss wants anything more, but the task of getting there lies squarely on their shoulders.
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