When I think about why my great boss experience was so powerful it was to do with feeling trusted and valued; having a clear understanding of what I needed to achieve without being told how to do it; being provided with the right skills and resources (within reason); getting advice when I asked for it and being held accountable for the results - including being rewarded for them.
I have had some shockingly bad managers over my career and so when I worked at Citi and was responsible rolling out a global leadership development program for people managers I was hopeful that this work could make a difference.
Managers always make a big difference - sometimes not for the better
If you do the numbers (and at the time there were roughly 50,000 people managers and so let's say they all have a minimum of 5 reports) then this was a role where a real difference could be made. That is 250,000 staff lives that could be improved. Let's assume that when people have bad managers they spend around 5 hours a week talking about it and 10 hours a week thinking about it - that is 3,750,000 hours that could be used to better effect. My maths is not so great but whatever the numbers involved we all know that when we have a bad boss it makes life miserable and we waste our own time and often that of others.
So I was interested to see some research out that has the following findings: 3 out of 4 employees report that their boss is the most stressful part of their job 65% of employees say they'd take a new boss over a pay rise A study of 30,000 employees say these are the top 5 flaws:
1 Fails to inspire
2 Accepts mediocrity
3 Lacks a clear vision and direction
4 Unable to collaborate and be a team player
5 Fails to walk the talk
50% of employees who don't feel valued plan to look for another job next year.
So what is the 'X' factor for managers - well here are five suggestions:
Start with the basics - people need to know what they need to be doing and why they are doing it - and they need to be provided with the right resources to be able to achieve their goals. If people don't know why their work matters and how it fits in to the overall strategy it is unlikely they will want to offer an extra inch let alone an extra mile.
Use performance management really well - if your official process has become complicated go back to simpler times and start with a great conversation and blank sheet of paper. Research shows that performance management is successful when the rewards on offer are valued by employees and are broad ranging - not just financial.
Set goals together - in the same research invovlement in setting targets has the 2nd most significant impact on engagement and also has a really positive impact on how positively people feel about their employer.
Communicate frequently - stop sending emails when you are in the same building - talk to each other - and if you are in separate locations call people - make time for regular, short face to face contact.
Give straight feedback - whether this is positive or negative share your views, share your ideas and be curious about what is going on. And be prepared and open to getting straight feedback
....and here is a 6th one for free - listen to each other - being listened to is rare in the workplace- so make time to pin back your ears, take time and interest and learn to be curious and engaged in the work of your team.
What are your best boss stories, what is the difference that made a difference to you?