A question for ya

QuestionI have a simple question for you:

What’s the one thing you wish your manager understood about you, which still hasn’t sunk in with him/her?

I ask because I’m giving a ton of presentations to groups of managers about happiness at work these days and I’d like to give them an even better idea of where managers and employees often don’t connect or misunderstand each other.

So what do you think? What doesn’t your manager seem to get about you? Please write a comment, I’d be very happy to know your take on this!

Great comment: Marks says “I wish my boss understood that people are not motivated by awarding them with tawdry ‘Employee of the Month’ certificates or covering the office walls with ‘Motivational’ posters but by respecting their knowledge of the job and trusting their judgement on a day to day basis.”

26 thoughts on “A question for ya”

  1. I wish that my boss would understand the power of genuine praise as a motivation tool. I’ve been at my current workplace for almost two years, and the leader operates on the principle (or at least appears to operate this way) that any time we are told we are doing a good job, we will become lazy. When, in fact, the opposite is true. Without EVER, and I do mean EVER receiving praise for what I do, and I’ve had many successes, along with my bumps, it makes me SO MUCH LESS interested in trying and innovating. I go through many more ruts of complete disinterest and simply getting it done, rather than innovating, because I have absolutely no incentive to innovate. I don’t want money. I would just be happy with an “atta girl” sometimes.

  2. I feel like a lot of managers forget they are at the helm. If they are stressed out about completing a big project, and start throwing papers, yelling, talking harshly, or generally being a negative person, then the ship goes of course, or in a best case scenario, the ship reaches the harbor, but the sails are tattered and the weathered crew is threatening mutiny. I fee like its important for managers to remain calm. Their stress will permeate throughout the team an yeild unwelcomed results.

  3. Two things:
    I think managers forget that the people underneath them have even less power than they do. I’m looking for managers to make decisions, field politics, ruthlessly prioritize requests, and take ownership of our department. I’m not interested in hearing how I need to take ownership of my projects – I’m doing that – when a very major component of workgroup satisfaction is controlling the image and workload of our overall department. The most effective person to do this is the manager.
    Also, I wish my manager would realize that I’m not motivated by “opportunities for growth” by taking on projects from the less productive members of the team. Rather than make me feel rewarded and appreciated, it makes me wish the less productive person would get fired and they’d pay me both of our salaries, since I’m doing both of our work.

  4. I wish my boss understood that people are not motivated by awarding them with tawdry ‘Employee of the Month’ certificates or covering the office walls with ‘Motivational’ posters but by respecting their knowledge of the job and trusting their judgement on a day to day basis.

    The same goes for’Team Building’ exercises such as paintballing weekends and the like; most people would sooner be with their loved ones at wekends rather than running through woodland playing at being soldiers with work colleagues.

    Real team building isn’t something that you do once a year for a few hours in some synthetic environment but rather something that is built every hour of every working day by engaging with the team, understanding what motivates them, what they take pride in, what you as a manager can do to make their job more interesting and more productive by helping them overcome the challenges that they face each day.

  5. I wish my boss understood marketing and communications is a science and skill and that possession of an opinion does not qualify one as an expert.

  6. I would like managers to start seeing me (or other ppl in the team) as experts in their field hired especially for the professional knowledge we posses. This means getting our opinion in matters of the project that we’re proficient at and usually making our opinions the final decision.

    There’s just nothing more frustrating than a boss leading a tech-team (IT guys in my case), that allows a well skilled team operate only with tools and procedures that he/she understands, is used to or has been using in his/her student years. It freaks us out when the conversation goes like “the company X is using the big thing Y so let’s use it too!”.

    Trust us for Gods sake: you hire us for >$40k yearly so let us do our job to the best of our ability. Use your skills to build motivation, smoothen communication amongst the team. The best boss I’ve ever had overused lines like: “What can I do for you?” or “Is there something you need” or “Would you like something to change in order to make you more satisfied/comfortable?”.

  7. Hi Alex,

    for me, everything comes down to recognition (but then, I’m a recognition professional :))

    People (=managers) often misunderstand the word Recognition and immediately think of “Rewards” and from there they immediately remember that they have “no budget” for that…

    Rewards are an after-the-fact display of recognition and they are very important (a simple Thank You is already a reward). And then there’s the whole before-the-fact part that managers seem to overlook.

    Every single comment of the above six is about recognition (and the lack thereof): praise; recognizing that when I let my team see that I’m stressed, it will affect them negatively; recognizing *each invidiual’s* different motivational drivers and needs (you should treat people equally, but not the same); recognizing your staffs skills, talents, knowledge and expertise…

    Recognition doesn’t have to cost anything and it’s the most powerful motivator and the key to employee engagement and happiness. I blog about recognition irregularly – and sometimes I re-post your posts :) so feel free to snatch something from me this time, if it helps you. I tend to use this one for my presentations, it seems to hit home:



  8. What I would love for managers to understand is, that motivation is drives by two things:

    1: that the employee feels trusted – in stead of being monitored og having to clear every littele decision with someone higher above. When Im given the responsability for a project, where my boos knows that I might not be on completely safe ground, but he gives it to me anyway because he trust me to be capable of solving it Im always motivated and you can be sure I will do everything I can to manage the project well. Because when he trusts me, Im less likely to dissappoint him :-)

    2: inclusion. This is an old one, but still necessary. When changes are made, the top often forgets to ask people “in the machinery” what wishes and recommandations they might have. My experirnce is that if people feel included – even though all of what they said might not become reality, they are much more likely to be happy and motivated to go on despite changes thay might not like too much.

  9. Caveat: I work as a New Product Development Engineer for a large company.

    Echo for the above: I don’t need constant bonuses & raises (they are nice, and I wouldn’t complain too loudly- I haven’t seen one in over a year and a half even though our profit has grown) I do need to know my work is appreciated, and that management is excited about what we’re doing.

    Our business seems to have forgotten how to do Project Launches: I don’t see launch meetings where management is excited about what the new product is going to do for the market. It’s hard to be motivated about the next project when management doesn’t seem to be motivated by anything other than next quarter’s numbers.

    I’d also say that Management needs to realize that every time they “Postpone” or “De-fund” or “Back-Burner” or “Offline” someones new cool project, it really kills motivation to come up with the cool new stuff that differentiates us from competitors.

    Ohh, also: Telling someone that everyone in management agrees that you’re ready for a promotion, but “because salary actions are frozen we’re just going to keep you where you are” is a real motivation killer. Admitting that you’re underpaying me and aren’t going to do anything about it, even though other people who made more that you have left the group and you’re taking over some of their duties ALONG with your old duties is NOT motivating.

    Any surprise that I spend a lot of time reading blogs and am currently looking for a new position?

  10. I wish my boss understood that just because the idea is in their head doesn’t mean that anyone else knows about it. Communication is the hardest part!

  11. As many of the others have said , I want my boss to treat me individually and to let me use my talents for doing my job. I want to be included and empowered and need to have information for doing my job well.

    It all comes down to recognition and appreciation for me. However, having been used to not getting the recognition I need, at least I would expect my boss to notice that others are not doing the job they are paid for and that this has consequences. Instead, very often people like me do the job of others while those are doing “networking” and get the pay rises and other benefits. This is very frustrating to me.

  12. I second Cezary Krzy?anowski’s comment. I work in an IT department, and we use inferior tools (hardware and software, client-side and server-side) mostly because the powers that be don’t know anything else. This makes the job unnecessarily harder (and more expensive) to do.

  13. Cora is absolutely right.

    The driver for all business activity is money, until that is, it comes to the relationship between employers and their employees at which point the value system changes and employees are expected to do their job because they are ‘passionate’ about their work rather than for the money.

    I can’t remember the last time I met a Venture Capitalist or Investment Banker that was passionate about anything other than the money they made from the deal so why should employees not be similarly candid about the importance that proper reward has for them too?

  14. I can second almost everything already listed here.

    Managers, I wish you understood what it takes to get something done when you ask us for something at the last minute and get angry that it isn’t done in the next half hour or tell us that everything is urgent.

    Also, this is just me/my manager, but please understand that I am an introvert and hate thinking out loud and hate being constantly put on the spot. I much prefer the think before leaping and planning method (e.g. figuring out our goals/objectives before deciding that XYZ method seems like a good idea) to shooting from the hip and everybody being stressed out about doing everything at the last minute.

    In short, needless aggravation, stress, and added expense can be avoided if you would just put some forethought into planning for things. Or let your staff put some forethought into planning things without wrecking the plans by changing key elements at the last moment.

  15. I am grateful I came across this blog. This will help me with my employees. Thanks to everyone for the honesty and openess.

  16. I worked near two years ago but the salary very low and my respond so much. The boos never think this point. What should i do? Should i change the new job or continue?

  17. I wish my manager understood that I am an individual, with individual skills and individual needs. Until a manager realizes that, he will never be able to use the full potential of an employee.
    Looking at individuals as resources with average skills and average needs, can only result in using average potential.


  18. Another vote for what Cora and Mark said.

    Pay may not rank very highly as one of my motivators, but being underpaid is a pretty big DE-motivator!

    I assume the reason why I got hired in the first place, and why another manager is trying to keep me from leaving is not because I’m stupid, so when it comes to time to discuss pay, I would really really appreciate not hearing stupid reasons why I shouldn’t get more (fair) pay, such as:

    “You don’t spend a lot, why do you need more money?” – For the record, this has to be the most stupid reason ever, and my jaw just about dropped when I heard it.

    “It’s your hobby isn’t it?” / “You like doing it don’t you?” – I may enjoy doing it, but when I’m making them money, the least they could do is to pay me instead of expecting it for free or for a very token payment.

    “” (with the implication that I should be doing it too) – Is there some reason why I should be following her example? Especially since the story ended with her quitting over the long hours?

  19. Last para “” is actually “insert story about how XXX works till late at night for free”. Went missing due to angled brackets.

  20. I wish my boss understood that boredom is BAD. When I get bored and cranky, the customer suffers directly. When I ask to learn a new skill, though my boss doesn’t see the immediate importance of giving me the opportunity to learn it, I have a motivation for learning that skill. Not only do I become a more valuable employee but I have relieved a bit of the repetitive monotony that is an unfortunate, but understandable, side effect of my job. In return, my boss gets an employee he can call on when the person who normally does those extra skills, can’t.

  21. I wish my manager knew that my software engineering job requires long periods of intense concentration, which means interruptions require about a half hour to get back up to speed.

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