The stereotype of the “yes man/woman” is a common one. The idea is that employees are loathe to disagree with, or in any way offend, their bosses. Certainly, a baseline of respect is expected of employees. But, it can also be dangerous not to be up front with superiors about genuine concerns.
Managers who don’t hear honest, constructive criticism from their staff members may have trouble improving performance and achieving organizational goals and objectives.
How Employees View Their Managers
A recent Randstad USA survey exposes some surprising statistics and insights about how employees view their managers. Here are a few of the key findings:
- Only 53% of employees feel their boss values their opinion.
- Just 35% feel inspired by their boss.
- 25% of employees believe they can do a better job than their boss.
- 17% say their boss takes credit for their work.
- Both younger employees (aged 25–34) and females tend to be uncomfortable challenging their managers—about 35% in both cases.
It’s not surprising that bosses may be unaware of these types of criticisms. How many employees are going to be comfortable telling their boss that he or she is uninspiring, that he or she takes credit for their work, or that they feel they can do a better job than he or she can?
Discovering What Employees Really Think
While the direct approach may not be the right approach, the takeaway for managers is that if they’re not getting some negative feedback from employees, they’re likely not aware of the actual sentiments among their staff. What the Randstad survey reveals is that a large number of employees have some important negative feelings toward their bosses but are fairly uncomfortable expressing them.
What can managers do to overcome these tendencies? First, take steps to create a climate of transparency and trust by being open to feedback from employees—even, and especially, constructive feedback. Your responses will determine how comfortable they, and others, are with being honest with you in the future.
Second, model the appropriate approach to providing constructive feedback. Finally, consider whether having anonymous methods of feedback—e.g., suggestion boxes and surveys—can help to reveal information that employees are hesitant to share.