Even though we tend to focus on employees complaining about their managers, they do compliment them too. However, one employee over fifteen years ago totally transformed how I look at manager-employee relationships.
In his case, we were having lunch refreshing our connection. We discussed training, his career and his manager. I eventually asked, “How do you like working for (his manager)?”
He replied, “A lot, I like him.”
“Why?” I continued.
“I’m able to talk to him, he helps with sales, has good ideas . . .” began the employee as he continued very positively for about five minutes. I was very impressed. It was not only very glowing but also detailed.
After he was done, I casually summarized for him by saying, “It’s good you can trust him.”
Immediately, he countered, “Oh! I didn’t say that!”
He took me aback with his comment, but he was right: he never used the word “trust.” After exploring this more with him, I created this question:
This has become my “acid test” question for evaluating manager-employee relationships after listening to an employee’s glowing appraisal of a manager. While a negative response doesn’t necessarily indicate a bad relationship, it does indicate something fair or just good at best.
While it’s understandable that managers can’t always do what’s best for employees, they can often tell them when they can’t. This is especially the case with agreeable managers who tend to avoid conflict, not only with their bosses but also with their employees. Couple this with the difficulty of being truthful and honest in negative situations, and we can easily see how trust comes under assault.
Yet, these situations distinguish the administrative managers from the heroic ones.