Have You Been a Naughty or Nice Boss? Heidi Voorhees Shares The Ten Things Employees Tell Us They Want In a Leader
By Heidi Voorhees, President, GovHRUSA
We’ve interviewed thousands of employees as a part of our recruitment and selection processes. Here is what they tell us they want in a leader, boss, manager, and supervisor:
- Listen, Listen, Listen. Bosses often talk more than they listen and when they do listen, they sometimes are also looking at their phone, computer or tablet. Employees want their boss to put down the technology and genuinely listen.
- Stop Micromanaging. There are times when leaders and managers must micromanage; however, so many employees complain about being micromanaged, that it is important to mention it. Employees want to feel their expertise is respected and not regularly second guessed.
- Address Performance Issues. Failure to address performance issues is a morale killer. Allowing poor performance at any level is frustrating and discouraging for employees.
- Conduct Regular, Productive Staff Meetings. Employees want to know what is going on in their department, in the organization and in the community. Plus, they can be frustrated with turf battles. One way to address all of these issues is with regular staff meetings that have agendas, are kept on task and provide for a free flow of information. Regularly canceling staff meetings can relay an unintended message that teamwork and communication are not valued.
- Encourage Professional Development and New Ideas. Employees in general want to improve their skills and see a path for their career. By encouraging professional development and the introduction of new ideas you anchor employees to your organization.
- Don’t Play Favorites. Leaders and managers at all levels need to be approachable and friendly but not a friend. Socializing with some direct reports and not others can lead to unnecessary angst in the workplace.
- Be Emotionally Consistent. Leaders and managers do not always recognize the impact of their moods on the organization. If they are having a bad day and bring their frustration into the office, it will negatively impact the team. If this happens regularly, employees will be tentative in their interactions for fear of upsetting their boss. This leads to not relaying important information that may be viewed as “bad news” and not introducing new ideas.
- Practice Patience and Optimism. As alluded to in #7, leaders and managers need to hear bad news as soon as possible. If they lose their temper when they receive bad news, employees will quit bringing it forward. When there is a crisis, employees look to their leader for stability and optimism even if the leader is not feeling that way. Indicating that “We are a smart team and we will figure it out” can go a long way to solving the problem or managing the crisis.
- Respond to Email. It is surprising how often employees tell us their leader or manager does not respond to their emails or takes weeks to do so. This makes employees feel unimportant and worse, it can hold up the progress of key projects.
- Give Direction. The most team oriented, consensus building environments still need decisions made. Many employees tell us they would prefer a less than perfect decision to no decision at all.
Heidi Voorhees has led more than 150 recruitments for local government and not for profit entities across the country and takes pride in facilitating a tailored, thorough process that gives elected and appointed officials the tools they need to make critical human resource decisions. In addition, her firm, Voorhees Associates (2009 – 2013) provided management consulting in compensation, performance evaluation, public safety and organizational audits to more than 53 clients in 6 states.
In addition to her 13 years of executive recruitment and management consulting experience, she has 19 years of local government leadership and management service, with the Villages of Wilmette and Schaumburg, Illinois, and the City of Kansas City, Missouri. From 1990 to 2001, Ms. Voorhees served as the Village Manager for Wilmette, Illinois, one of Chicagoland’s notable residential suburbs located on the shore of Lake Michigan. During her tenure, Ms. Voorhees focused on delivering high quality services, streamlining administrative and management functions and team building throughout the organization that employed 200 individuals. Under her leadership, the organization developed a collaborative budget process, formalized its long range capital improvement program, and developed budget and financial policies that led to the achievement of a AAA bond rating for the community.
Since leaving the Village of Wilmette in 2001, Ms. Voorhees has been an Adjunct Instructor for the Center for Public Safety located on the campus of Northwestern University. She has instructed law enforcement executives in the Executive Management Program on management, community relations, and organizational culture. Ms. Voorhees has also been an Instructor for the Northwestern University Master’s Degree Program in Public Policy and Administration.
Ms. Voorhees holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. She also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Illinois State University.