What Do Your Employees Want from Their Managers?

what do your employees want

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re always looking for ways you can become a better manager, and ways you can help your managers improve as well. A new study from Addison Group has some insights on what employees of all generations want from their managers and what qualities managers think are important to have. Whether you’re hiring managers, coaching your managers or trying to become a better manager yourself, there’s something to learn.

What Do Your Employees Want?

The qualities employees wanted most in a manager include:

  • Ability to give honest feedback (63 percent)
  • Experience in the field (58 percent)
  • Trustworthiness (56 percent)
  • Makes time for employees (37 percent)
  • Collaborative (36 percent)

Overall, authoritarian-style managers are disliked; instead, employees prefer managers who encourage growth and wellbeing.

As to how managers want to be perceived, their views of what employees want from them are fairly accurate. Overall, the majority of managers (63 percent) want to be seen as mentors, which goes along with employees’ desires for an encouraging manager. Thirty-five percent want to be perceived as teachers, while 34 percent each said they wanted to be  seen as supervisors or coaches. (Respondents were allowed to choose multiple answers).

The Millennial Difference

Good managers are more important to Millennials than to other generations, possibly because they are still in the early stages of their careers or because they’ve grown up getting a lot of feedback from parents and teachers. While 25 percent of employees overall say their professional growth is due to a good manager, 36 percent of Millennials feel this way.

Millennials also have a different view of managers’ roles than do other generations. They are twice as likely as other generations to say they want direct reports to think of them as a “best friend” (20 percent, compared to 10 percent of Gen X and Baby Boomers).

I recently posted on Small Business Trends that most employees don’t want to be managers. But here again, Millennials stand out: A whopping 82 percent of them are interested in being managers. One problem, though: 76 percent say they would be reluctant to manage people older than they are.

Groom Your Management

What do these findings mean for your business?

  • If you want to attract and retain good employees, both you and your managers should focus on encouraging employees’ career development.
  • Managers should provide regular feedback to all employees, particularly Millennial workers.
  • Develop a collaborative approach to work whenever possible. Even if Millennials aren’t yet ready to be managers, having them work in teams with employees at all levels will expose them to managerial-level workers whom they can learn from.
  • Try letting Millennials lead a team of younger employees. For instance, you can have entry-level employees who have been in your business for a while welcome, mentor or train new entry-level staff members or interns. This way, young workers get a taste of management without the discomfort of leading co-workers old enough to be their parents.

Team Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.