Ask managers to rate themselves and they’ll tell you they’re good at what they do: There’s no need to change the leadership style.
Yet, almost 60% of employees who’ve quit say it was because they wanted to get away from their boss, not the company, a DDI World study found. Another third dream almost every day of ways to get away from the boss!
HR — and most front-line managers — don’t want employees spending their days finding ways to avoid the boss. Instead, managers want to avoid leadership styles and behaviors that drive employees crazy.
Adopting the right leadership style
“The research makes a clear case that we should stop using the term ‘soft skills’ to describe what are really critical leadership skills,” says Stephanie Neal, director of DDI’s Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research. “How leaders manage their emotions and how they make other people feel are the strongest drivers of talent retention.”
Still, the research points to a disparity between what managers think of their leaderships styles and what employees think of how they’re managed.
This can help bridge the gap — five leadership approaches that can cause issues with staff and how front-line managers might improve on them.
1. Manager is a friend
Employees need smart, decisive managers – not buddies. Managers who’ve come up through the ranks sometimes find themselves in the position of still trying to be a friend when they need to be a leader.
Fix it: Managers must be friendly, but they shouldn’t be close friends with direct reports. Decisions and directives should always be made based on business. Rely on facts, performance and what’s best for the company for decisions involving employees.
2. Manager is a helicopter
You’ve probably heard of helicopter parents – those who hover over everything their children do from playground adventures to post-college job interviews. In the workplace, the “helicopter leader” micro-manages. If a manager expects employees to run everything past them before they make decisions or take the next step in any task or project, they’re probably a micro-manager.
Fix it: Managers should be aware of what everyone under them are doing at any given time, but they don’t need to know the intricate details. Give your people adequate training on the front end, encouragement throughout and reinforcement when they do well – and they will be equipped to do the job right without someone looking over their shoulders.
3. Manager wears emotions on sleeve
Everyone has bad days. But when employees say things such as, “Steer clear of Jim. He’s having one of those days,” the mood swings are out of control and affecting employees.
People will not be productive under mood swings because they have to change work habits to meet unpredictable expectations.
Fix it: Like we often tell employees, it’s vital that leaders also leave their baggage at the door. No matter the pressures, managers need to stay calm and focused to maintain trust with employees.
4. Manager intimidates
Rarely do leaders see themselves as intimidating. They see giving orders and constructive criticism as part of their jobs. But that part is often tainted by a condescending tone or ulterior motive.
If a manager regularly tells people the consequences of not following their direction or if their tone is similar to the one they’d use when scolding a child, they’re leading by intimidation.
Fix it: Not only do good leaders need to avoid being the bully in the office, they need to curb that type of behavior over all. Because this is a hard habit to diagnose, they’ll want to ask a trusted colleague or HR to monitor them and give feedback on where they can improve.
5. Manager expects too much
We all work more these days, but managers can’t expect employees to put in more than they’re paid – or signed on – to do. If managers send email and make calls after hours and on weekends – and demand answers – they expect too much of their people.
Fix it: Stop work when the workday ends. Like you, employees need time to themselves. Grant it, and they will give their all when they are on the clock.