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What Employees Really Need from Their Managers

By Bobby Low
Illustration of a clip board with a checklist.

We’re in an exciting time of exponential change & growth. Technology has evolved the way we do...pretty much everything! I could’ve saved a lot of money if someone told me how irrelevant CDs were going to be in 2021. I think we would all agree that the same goes for the way work has evolved.

We’re working in a time of rapid change, and technology is often at the center of it all. The future of work is here, and it’s causing a shift in how we think about managers. No longer can managers just command and control their team into high-performing results. A high-performing team that drives great results has to be inspired by a great coach.

The Manager to Employee relationship is HUGE. It’s really one of the biggest factors of success for any team; here’s why:

  • Managers account for 70% of the variance in an employee's experience.
  • Only 33% of employees are highly engaged at work.
  • 57% of employees quit because of their boss.
  • Poor management and lost productivity costs over a Trillion Dollars annually...and that’s a LOT of money.
image with text - 57% of employees quit because of their boss.

After reading those statistics and probably gasping along with us, we hope you agree that there is an urgent need to disrupt management to the core. At Motivosity, we leverage research, leadership principles, and psychology of high-performing teams to build the best approach and technology that helps transform managers into leaders.

And the workplace is changing not only technologically (we give it 20 years before robots take over the world), it’s changing demographically. As the younger generations take on leadership positions and start filling your org chart, they want a coach instead of a boss. You might be wondering “well, that’s great but what can I do today to make a difference?” Lucky you—here are 6 things you can focus on right now to change how you lead your team.

Focus on Purpose and Impact

image with text - 6 things your employees need.

Help your employees understand their impact on the business and the larger mission of the company. When people know how their work makes a difference in the bigger picture, they feel that what they’re doing every day makes a difference. This is a surefire way to build a sense of belonging and greater job satisfaction. You’ll likely find your team proactively engaging to drive success, rather than moving day-to-day just crossing things off a to-do list.

Focus on Connection

Cheer your employees on, recognize and celebrate their successes, and give them tips to level up. Ask them about what they are working on, what they are doing well, and what they think they could do better. Although it’s great to chat by their desk or on Slack, it means more when you’ve dedicated consistent time to have 1 on 1 conversations. Your team will recognize your effort and respect you more as a leader and a friend when you’ve invested the time to connect with them on a personal level.

Focus on Frequent Ongoing Conversations

Make sure you are having frequent conversations, whether it’s checking in at the water cooler, meeting in a weekly 1 on 1, or at a formal performance review. Establishing open lines of communication fosters a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Practice being an active listener; this means encouraging your employees to share what’s been on their minds, what is important to them, and what they might be struggling with. Remember—this time is about THEM.

Focus on Strengths

Every employee is different, but they’re all motivated to keep improving, whether personally or professionally. One of the best things you can do to help them become better is to identify their strengths; focus on a 3 to 1 ratio when discussing what went well (3) and what they could improve (1). Focusing on strengths boosts confidence and drives better engagement through the roof.

Focus on Career Development

Employees have a strong motivation to grow and learn, even if it might not seem like it at first. Provide opportunities to develop new skills, take on new roles, acknowledge career-defining moments, and emphasize the importance of looking ahead. As Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”

image with text - Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.

Focus on Personal and Professional Lives

Show you care for your employees by taking a genuine interest in their personal and professional lives. Learn what is important to them, talk about the things going on outside of the four walls of the office, and understand that they are so much more than a title. How else are you going to learn about the rock climbing certification your web developer just completed or the Alaskan fishing trip your designer went on? People like being treated like a person, even in the office. And don’t worry, it’s okay for you to be human, too. Don’t expect your employees to open up if you’re an emotional vault.

When employees reflect on their experiences with their best managers, they normally describe managers who cared about them personally and professionally. They talk about managers who took an active interest in their lives and mentored them on key decisions.

When managers make employees their focus, they will surely build strong, trusting, and personal relationships that will unlock the potential to create high-performing individuals and teams. And, who knows, you just might get that “Best Boss Ever” mug this year for Christmas.