Survey Highlights Traits Employees Want Most in Managers

To be a good communicator, a manager's actions should speak louder than words, suggests a new survey. Twenty-eight percent of workers polled said their bosses could be more effective by standing up for their staff when needed. Putting a lid on office politics was cited by 24 percent of respondents as a way for employers to improve communication.

The poll was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 571 men and women, all 18 years of age or older, and employed.

Survey respondents were asked, "In which one of the following areas do you think your boss could communicate more effectively?" Their responses:

Standing up for staff when needed       28%
Nipping office politics in the bud 24%
Talking less and listening more 22%
Encouraging people to take breaks 11%
Something else/none of the above 13%
Don't know/no answer 2%
100%

"Most employees expect their managers to have solid communication skills to assign projects and keep the department running smoothly," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "However, more subtle behaviors can also enhance the work experience. The best employees want someone who will be their advocate."

Domeyer notes that communicating with staff -- and on their behalf -- plays a vital role in building job satisfaction. "Managers who promote employees' viewpoints, support their staff and limit the impact of office politics show they value and respect their team members. In leading by example, they not only encourage staff to develop similar skills but also promote a more positive corporate culture," she said.

Domeyer offered these tips for better communication at the office:

  • Don't fuel the rumor mill. It exists in every organization and goes into overdrive when managers limit top-down communication. If your staff doesn't hear the news from you, they will likely get it from another source.
  • Hold all employees to the same performance standards. Be consistent in communicating and maintaining your expectations for quality.
  • Letting certain employees or situations fall under the radar can fuel speculation of favoritism.
  • Observe and listen during meetings. How do others speak to and about your staff? If people are being questioned unfairly or criticized, speak up in their defense.
  • Be accessible. Don't let e-mails and voicemails stack up without acknowledging them. If you can't address questions immediately, tell your staff when you can.
  • Ask questions. One-on-one, impromptu discussions with team members can give you an indication of any political issues brewing before they escalate.

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