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Workers say managers hold them back from more input, responsibility

  • A majority of employees in a survey by software developer Kimble Applications said they want more responsibility at work but that managers are standing in their way. Eighty-three percent of the 1,000 full-time employees polled said they want their managers to ask for their input or opinions more often. The results showed workers “have an unfilled desire to contribute, make an impact and have their voices heard,” the company said in a statement emailed to HR Dive.
  • Most employees in the surveyed appear to view their bosses’ contributions negatively: 66% said they would perform their job just as well, or better, without their boss’ input, and 23% said their manager isn’t always the best qualified decision-maker. Most respondents (63%) said they would take their manager’s job today if it were offered to them, and more than one-third think their boss micromanages them too often. That said, most respondents (64%) believed their manager had a positive impact on their career development and advancement, while more than half said their manager is invested in their career growth and aspirations.
  • The most cited skill that respondents said is important for a boss to have in 2019 is the ability to motivate workers. Other desired managerial skills include the ability to coach and train, make decisions and delegate. Seventy-four percent of respondents preferred a collaborative culture over one in which their boss makes most of the decisions.

Managers aren’t always perfect, but their ability to convey where employees are at in their job performance as well as the areas in which they can improve can play a huge role in retention. Those promoted to leadership positions can also help to inspire and develop others. Not all bosses are successful at doing so: More than three-quarters of employees in a recent VitalSmarts survey said their managers had “glaring flaws,” such as being overwhelmed, having poor listening skills, and seeming either unfair or uninterested. These qualities are almost certainly the opposite of what HR teams, let alone employees, want.

“Today’s employees thrive when their leaders motivate, coach and provide enough independence to develop skills that can have a real impact on the business and their own careers,” Mark Robinson, co-founder of Kimble Applications, said in the statement. “These are all key principles of what we call agile management. I believe that businesses that implement this type of agile philosophy, where employees are given autonomy to make decisions, and encouraged to try new things, will thrive. Organizations that continue to operate in a highly hierarchical culture, where decisions are consistently made without consultation, will be left behind.”

Employers might also look to implement non-traditional performance management programs that require more frequent meet-ups between bosses and direct reports, instead of annual or semiannual assessments. But execution is key here, as an August survey by performance management platform Appraised found one-third of managers didn’t follow up with employees on scheduled check-ins. As one of a boss’ key responsibilities, performance management programs require total attention and commitment from management.

And when managers fail, HR leaders may also intervene with guidance or hands-on training to ensure managers are fulfilling those responsibilities.

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