Recognise This! – Line managers must improve ability to respect, trust and care for their employees, too.

Continuing our look at the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from the Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll, the requirements for achieving priority 2 are quite similar to priority 1.

Priority 2 for HR in 2011: Improving Manager Capabilities at Managing Their Direct Reports

Just as senior leaders must demonstrate respect, trust and caring for the workforce they manage, so too must line managers show the same for their direct reports. But now it becomes much more personal.

Line managers must be careful to remember that respect is a two-way street. If they want the respect of their direct reports, then managers must show respect for their direct reports as well. Dan McCarthy points out, “Respect is not something you only give away when it may serve your needs." The same is true of employee recognition. You don’t show your appreciation for your employee efforts only when those efforts directly work to your advantage. You should also be liberal with your thanks when your direct reports may have performed well in helping another manager, team or department.

Trust is often more easily gained by direct managers than senior leaders who are more removed from employees. But as with respect, trust is a two-way street. As Bret Simmons says, “You have to earn it by the way you behave toward them. Your people need to believe that you are competent and that you care.”

One way to demonstrate to employees you care about them is by taking the time to talk with them, to clearly communicate what you need them to do, praise them when they’re doing it well, and offer constructive feedback when they need improvement. Harvard Business School research showed employees overwhelmingly prefer a manager who is likeable to a person is very skilled but terrible at communicating.

Oft-reported Google research into their own employees (in an effort to “build a better boss) found:

    “What employees valued most were even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”

What does that tell me? Employees want bosses to be present, patient and honestly interested in the people they manage. How do you or your managers stack up?

Prior posts on 2011 Top HR Priorities

Priority 1: Improving Senior Leader Capabilities at Managing the Workforce