In our recent 2014 Employee Engagement & Organizational Culture Study, direct supervisors did not get high marks. Nearly half of all employee are indifferent or dissatisfied with their direct manager. If the old adage holds true—that employees leave managers, not jobs—then there’s lots of attrition on the horizon.
Thankfully, nearly 51% of all managers did get positive reviews. And when we looked at the reasons why employees ranked their supervisors highly, we found a lot of the same types of responses:
Things I really appreciate about my direct supervisor include: Blocking and tackling of most of executives, a solid direction for the product, no micro-managing, direct feedback as needed.
Love the no-hands approach which allows exploration, ideation, and improvement in my core area of responsibilities. At the same time, the 1:1 meetings permit milestone discussions.
My direct supervisor is extremely motivated. I always feel comfortable asking for advice and believe that her years of experience make that advice really strong. She always has our backs and recognizes how much work we are putting.
My Manager is awesome. I have learned so much from the guidance that I have been given and my Manager is always available to provide advice and support. Our relationship is strong because we communicate routinely and our level of communication is always open and honest.
The key traits that kept coming up again and again included:
Embraces autonomy & doesn’t micromanage: Facetime is a thing of the past. Well-liked supervisors focus more on results and outcomes, and less on how many hours their employees are working and where they are working. They hire individuals with great talent and drive, and let them run with projects.
Regularly meets with team: Everyone is busy. But great managers have regularly-scheduled 1:1 meetings to touch base on projects and priorities.
Focus on professional growth: Most employees want to grow professionally. Good managers empower this by offering additional responsibilities, enabling project rotation, or supporting outside coursework and training.
Make themselves available: Bosses that want to see their employees excel don't stifle their progress. But they make sure they’re around to offer guidance, support, and troubleshooting whenever it is needed.
Show appreciation: Good managers aren't stingy with their praise. They say “thank you” often, they are specific in their praise, and some even go as far as writing out a thank you note or a thank you email.
Communicate honestly and openly: Great supervisors are assertive with their feedback. They offer it up in real-time, and make sure it’s constructive and supports an employee’s projects and needs.
Provide guidance and mentorship: Great managers get to know their employees in and out of the office. They get a feel for their employees' life goals and provide mentorship to help make it happen.
Take a good look around your office. Which managers posses these traits? It won’t be all of them, that’s for sure. But the ones that do are your supervisor super stars. They are the ones that will engage their employees, offer positive reinforcement, and will no doubt have the most productive teams.
And if you’re considering promoting anyone from within, take a moment and ask yourself “does this person possess these traits.” If the answer is “no,” think again. You’ll risk elevating someone that could pollute your culture and have your employees running for the hills.