In a recent Fierce, Inc. survey of more than 1,700 corporate executives, employees, and educators, some 70 percent said they have a “positive” working relationship with their boss.
While that may be surprising news given the recent commercial success of the movie “Horrible Bosses,” the attributes that respondents value in a manager are obvious.
Here are five key traits that make a great boss:
1. Value what employees say. Eighty percent of respondents who identified a positive relationship with their boss said that one of the top factors in the relationship’s success is that their employer values their input. When your employee comes to you with an idea, it’s important to sit down, actively listen, and explore the idea even when it seems out in left field. If you miss the opportunity to process their input you will not only shortchange yourself, you will diminish the relationship.
2. Solicit diverse opinions. Forty percent of people who claimed a poor working relationship said that the relationship was failing in part because their manager never solicited their input in the decision-making process. Not all employees will volunteer their opinions, especially when early in the relationship. Actively solicit diverse opinions and feedback, and draw out all perspectives. This will help ensure that employees feel heard and valued, keeping them engaged and encouraging them to grow.
3. Offer constructive feedback. Almost 40 percent of survey participants who reported a good relationship felt that it was important for managers to offer constructive feedback. While listening is important, supervisors must also play an active part in staff development by offering perspectives on their ideas. This takes extra time and effort, but it is well worth it to ensure that employees continue are prepared to take on new responsibilities and roles.
4. Be honest. More than 33 percent of respondents also cite honesty as a key component of a successful relationship. Given the recent scandals in the housing and finance sectors, employees crave transparency and candor. Trust that your employees are capable of handling the truth, whether it’s in reference to their performance or the company’s overall trajectory. When reality is presented in a non-threatening manner, people can rise to the occasion while gaining the opportunity to play a more meaningful role in their individual and collective success.
5. Keep everyone informed. More than 40 percent of those surveyed who claimed a bad working relationship with their manager felt their boss failed to keep them in the loop. Once a decision is reached, leaders often fail to communicate downstream. Keep your employees informed so they clearly see the impact they have on the organization and your decision-making process. Few things can be more frustrating than being left in the dark.
People crave high levels of candor, collaboration, and curiosity from their managers. While it may require leaders to slow down, building relationships that foster engaged employees and improved decision-making on both sides is more than worth it.
Halley Bock is the CEO of Seattle-based Fierce, Inc., a leadership and development training company that drives results for businesses by developing conversation as a skill.