Human Resources

Employees share the most irritating manager traits

Health Industry Hub | January 15, 2020 |
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Recently, LinkedIn Learning surveyed almost 3,000 professionals and asked them their biggest frustration with a manager. The top winner – a manager whose expectations are not clear or frequently change.

That was followed by a manager who micromanages, a manager who isn’t involved enough and a manager who doesn’t foster employee development.

And these issues lead to people leaving companies. The data revealed that 36% of employees have quit their job because their manager exhibited one of those behaviours and another 15% are strongly considering it.

Expert Insights

Four leadership experts, Todd DewettMike Figliuolo, and Lisa Earle McLeod, were sought for their input to the most frustrating work situation cited by employees: bosses who don’t set clear expectations.

“A lack of clear expectations is the root cause of poor performance,” Lisa said. “Leaders often think they’re clear, but the data tells us a different story. Employees need to know why this matters (the purpose) and what good looks like (performance expectations). Show me a leader who says, ‘I shouldn’t have to tell them, it should be obvious,’ and we’ll show you a team that isn’t clear.”

“Unclear or changing manager expectations are often due to the lack of a strategy or a failure to understand the organisation’s strategic plan,” Mike added. “If you don’t have clarity on the strategy, it can lead to frequently shifting direction, an absence of prioritisation or confusion about what the team should be working on next. Building a good strategic plan is a great way to solve one of the biggest root causes of this issue.”

The next two issues – being a micromanager and being too unavailable – are opposites. It shows how challenging being a manager can be.

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Micromanaging often stems from a manager who has a challenging time trusting their employees and/or doesn’t want to delegate the work that got them to that position. The third issue – being unavailable – is based largely on a shortcoming that can be corrected.

“Much of this latter issue stems from leaders not being good at giving feedback,” he said. “The more comfortable you are with giving feedback, the easier it is to engage with your team members even on the most difficult issues.”

The fourth issue – not fostering professional development – is one that most managers want to address but their mindset perhaps prevents it from occurring.

“Managers know it’s important to foster the development of their employees,” Todd said. “They also acknowledge the need to engage this type of behaviour. However, the personality that drove them to become a manager (for many, not all) is very self-focused: success is my responsibility, I am in charge of growing my abilities, I don’t need to rely on others since I’m in charge of my future. To the extent this is true, they often under-appreciate their role in developing others since they assume others are taking care of it – just as they did.”

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If managers struggle in the four areas listed, they will likely frustrate their employees and drive them to leave.

Setting clear expectations, effectively delegating tasks, connecting with your employees and fostering their growth are must-learn skills for managers.

Bottom line – being a good manager is hard. Really hard.


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