Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 Things on Boss and Employee Wish Lists

The workplace is such a tapestry of attitudes, beliefs, cultures, generations and habits. Dump that into a cubicle or offices in close proximity and it's like sharing a room in a dorm or a bathroom with a teen sister or brother. Often, I wonder if we tried daily to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, would that change our responses to one another? In the interest of trying to see things from both sides, I asked some leader/managers and their employees what was on their workplace wish list. From a non-scientific sample of both bosses and employees, here's some of what they told me:

The Boss's Wish List for Employees
1. Be reliable. When I ask you to do something, do it promptly. If I do not give you clear instruction or a deadline, ask me about it. I'm busy and not perfect.We pay you to do this job.
2. Don't just tell me what you think I want to hear. Have the professional courage to honestly discuss your workload, any organizational unknowns and offer ideas to make things better. All of your ideas may not be implemented. Be mature about it.
3. If you make a mistake, own it. Don't laugh about it, avoid it, blame others or become defensive. Sincerely apologize, discuss it with me and learn from it. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how you respond that causes reactions of irritation or sympathy.
4. We will disagree. Try to understand my preferred work style, definition of work and I'll try to understand yours. Then we meet halfway. I am being measured and asked to deliver results. I don't make this stuff up just to terrorize you. It may be uncomfortable. Get over it.
5. Avoid being an expert at pointing out problems, come to me with thoughtful solutions and creative new ideas that help us reach our strategic goals. Sometimes the organization is not ready for your ideas. Don't bad-mouth me or my boss, but don't give up.

The Employee's Wish List for the Boss
1. Let me do my job. You hired me because I obviously have some intelligence and skills. My definition of work may be different from yours.
2. Celebrate success more. I need encouragement and a pat on the back for a job well done. Saying "thank you" for small things is nice too.
3. Invest in my professional development. I want to learn from others in my profession and more about my industry. It helps me to not feel so isolated.
4. Be a better listener. I need to know you will listen to my ideas without judgment. I may need to complain or  want to radically change things. I want to know you will support me.
5. Communicate with clarity. Tell me what you expect and how my job contributes to the big picture. Make time to clearly outline the goals and strategies of our area.

At the foundation of any healthy workplace relationship is the constant effort to try to see things from another person's point of view. So many people are looking for an excuse to judge and be negative about the boss or employee. Some people harbor unspoken, misdirected biases that have been deeply ingrained into them by what others have said or how they were raised. Others say, it's generational differences. Instead of viewing it that way, what if we asked smart questions of each other, respected differences and desired to intentionally make the workplace better than we found it? It takes maturity, open communication, trust and compromise from both the boss and the employee to enhance relationships and ultimately get the job done. There are no perfect bosses or employees. It is my hope that both bosses and employees think about these wishlists, then openly discuss or create their own lists without fear. We spend too much time at work to be miserable.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...~Colossians 3:23

What's on your boss/employee wish list? What do you think? Leave comments below.