Managers talk about the employee they want. In reality, employee behaviors are often a reaction to their manager.
In my management courses, I use a model which is a continuum of management behavior. On one side is a style that is very directive and tells employees what to do. He/she makes decisions then tells the employees what the decision is. His behavior is very task-oriented, impersonal and can be fear-based. This behavior is centered on the boss’ needs and wants.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is a manager who seeks feedback and encourages employee involvement in decision-making and empowers them to contribute. Her behavior is very open and creative, communicates well and inspires team spirit. This manager is supportive and centered on the employees needs and wants.
Managers list the following preferred employee characteristics:
• Team player
• Positive attitude
• Good communicator
• Problem solver
When looking at the model mentioned above, it is not hard to see that the employee-centered approach will result in employees responding in the way managers want to see. In a “boss” centered approach, the environment created is more threatening to employees. They may not feel safe enough to communicate openly, offer creative ideas and propose solutions. From my experience, these employees are in survival mode and do not want to incur the wrath or disapproval of the manager. These are not relaxed environments; they have high levels of anxiety.
When the manager is open to their thoughts and ideas, employees are encouraged to do the same. The manager is looking for involvement so criticism is minimized. Employees feel safer and trust their boss has their best interest at heart.
In reality, managers do need to be directive sometimes, and the ultimate decision for the department does fall on them. However, if managers behave this way too much, employees will be compliant, take no initiative, and do as they are told. This behavior creates a work environment that does not reward employees for being innovative, proactive and self-motivated.
I have witnessed first-hand how this plays out. If employees are worried they are going to be criticized for their ideas or unsure of the boss’s mood of the day, they move inward and enter a “bunker-like” mentality out of self- preservation and concern of losing their job.
These are not happy places to work, and people leave. Emotions people feel while they work play a big part in job satisfaction. The emotional climate also has a direct effect on patient satisfaction. Happy employees beget happy patients. Managers who model the behaviors they want in employees create happier work environments where the quality of care is the focus and teamwork is practiced.
Do you engage on a personal level with your employees? Do you look for what your employees are doing right? Do you ask your employees for feedback on how things can be better on your unit? Do you round and ask how you can help make their job easier?