What Your Employees Wish You’d Do to Be a Better Boss

By Robert Half on May 16, 2017 at 1:00pm

Have you ever heard that people don’t leave their companies — they leave their managers? Respondents to a new Accountemps survey said that, sure enough, 43 per cent of them have left a job in search of a better boss.

The survey, with responses from more than 400 Canadian workers, found that nearly two in three workers (63 per cent) said they are happy with their higher-ups, but 11 per cent said they’d feel better if their supervisor left the company. Despite generally positive attitudes, employees have pretty extensive wish lists for their supervisors.

Imagine what Dilbert, the main character in the comic strip of the same name, would say about his ignorant/incompetent/pointy-haired boss, who refers to his department as his empire. Or how much the friends in the movie “Horrible Bosses” despise their employers.

You can do better than that!

Find out how to be a better leader by avoiding these archetypes:

The Uncommunicative Boss

Workplace communication was the biggest area that could use improvement cited in the survey. In describing their relationships with their superiors, some responses were “distant” and “non-existent.”

Effective communication skills are essential if you’re going to lead others and carry out your company’s objectives. As Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps, said, “Supervisors should work to maintain [a] positive rapport by continuing to look for opportunities for improvement, and to actively seek feedback from their staff.”

How to be a better boss:

  • Foster an open environment where employees feel comfortable enough to go to you with questions.
  • Schedule regular meetings, both one on one and with your team or department.
  • Provide feedback and work to clearly articulate your expectations about the job they’re doing.
  • Ask for feedback in return and actively listen to the ideas of others.
  • Seek learning opportunities to be become a good communicator.

The Thankless Boss

Feeling appreciated is the biggest driver of professional happiness, according to Robert Half's first-of-its-kind study, IT'S TIME WE ALL WORK HAPPY Employee recognition efforts can not only help your team members feel invested, motivated and happy to go to work each day, but they can also lead to the success of your department and company.

How to be a better boss:

  • Show gratitude for a job well done with a handwritten note or face-to-face time.
  • Announce accomplishments during meetings or in emails where you cc people in your company.
  • Promote appreciation and give regular feedback and praise within the workplace by making it part of your company culture.
  • Share information about the business and how outstanding employees contribute to the company’s success.
  • Treat the whole team by taking them out to lunch or giving them a half day off. 

Discover more Ways to Thank Your Staff (and a video of Recognition Gone Wrong).

The Unsupportive Boss

Another area of improvement that showed up in the survey was a need for managers to help with employee growth and development. Companies are discovering that one way to retain their best employees is to help them pursue a career path that is meaningful to them. Otherwise, they may decide to make their own path — out the exit door.

How to be a better boss:

  • Establish a mentoring arrangement, either formal or informal, to help your workers define their long-term objectives.
  • Recommend learning opportunities and support their goals by offering to help pay for education or training.
  • Offer professional development and skill building, either in-house or through public seminars.
  • Provide the potential to advance in your organisation.
  • Encourage networking so they can connect with other people who can provide good career guidance and valuable industry insight.

Read our Work Culture & Training Tips

The Workaholic Boss

Employees in the Accountemps survey also mentioned the importance of having managers who promote work-life balance. As a supervisor, it’s up to you to set the tone on the job, encourage healthy lifestyles as part of your overall office culture — and set a good example with your own work and personal life.

How to be a better boss:

  • Consider offering flexibility, such as job-sharing, telecommuting or workdays outside of the traditional 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday schedules.
  • Explore perks, such as nap rooms and subsidized gym memberships to help people juggle the demands of work and personal obligations.
  • Inspire others by managing your time carefully to avoid having to stay late, and socialize with your staff when you can.
  • Organise group activities during working hours to motivate and reward hard work.
  • Use temporary staffing solutions to bring in help during busy times.

We’re sure there are other kinds of leaders out there — the Micromanaging Boss, BFF Boss, Bossy Boss and Absent Boss, just to mention a few. But you get the idea. Your employees are watching and learning from you, so be the best boss you can be.