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Unmasking The Root Cause of Manager-Staff Discontent

How workplace enjoyment is enhanced or diminished

By Elaine SiheraPublished 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 5 min read
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Unmasking The Root Cause of Manager-Staff Discontent
Photo by Microsoft Edge on Unsplash

According to a popular handbook for managers written years ago, a good manager motivates others by "encouraging ambition, the desire to achieve, and a wish to contribute to the collective good of the business". This was followed by a list of qualities regarded as important to this role (like being decisive, setting high standards and defining responsibility). No doubt, those are useful pre-requisites for leading and engaging others, but concentrating on just those qualities assume that all managers start from the same point with the same perspectives. Unfortunately, they don't, for a simple but crucial reason.

According to indeed.com, "Complaints about management, like controlling behaviour, micromanagement or perceived wrongs caused by supervisors, are common, as well as complaints about equal employee treatment or favouritism."

Looking at these complaints in greater detail, Twintel also identifies the five main ones that cause the most friction:

  1. Lack of Communication and Transparency: which can lead to 'frustration and a sense of disengagement' when workers feel excluded from the information loop.
  2. Inadequate Recognition and Feedback: Job satisfaction often suffers 'when employees feel that their efforts go unnoticed or unappreciated'.
  3. Work-Life Imbalance: Maintaining a healthy work-life balance has become 'increasingly challenging for many employees' as the working demands increase. 'Long working hours, excessive workload, and limited flexibility can contribute to burnout and dissatisfaction'.
  4. Insufficient Career Growth Opportunities: Employees need 'opportunities for professional development and career advancement' to keep their interest alive. When they feel that their growth is stagnant, they lose morale and may start looking for other job prospects.
  5. Last, but not least, Poor Management and Leadership: Often a 'significant source of employee dissatisfaction', these practices lead to common complaints that include lack of support, micromanagement, favouritism, and unclear expectations.

The management aspect is essential because most other problems stem from poor management.

Managers are tasked with delivering the objectives of an establishment, as well as maintaining its ethos and direction, yet not all managers are equal in outlook, competency, skills, knowledge and empathy (key attributes of the managerial role). In fact, what affects our capacity for effective leadership is our reason for seeking that particular promotion or position; our perception of ourselves and our colleagues and the confidence we possess. Being 'decisive' is all well and good, but if we are slow to act on that decision because we fear the consequences, or doubt our ability to execute it effectively, we cannot inspire confidence in others. Merely telling ourselves to be more decisive is meaningless, unless the capability is there to fulfil that requirement.

Again, to be able to encourage others to achieve their ambition we would need to believe in ourselves first because that belief will help us to trust others, delegate to them and coax them along. Leaders fail to act effectively not because they are necessarily incompetent but because their own esteem and confidence are low, and their expertise in people management is inadequate. In such instances they cannot appreciate others, their aspirations or fallibility, or motivate them efficiently. In fact, at such times they will do their utmost to prevent others from shining above them, which eventually becomes counter-productive because it robs the organisation of vision, available talent, and outstanding performance.

By LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Wrong Reasons for Promotion


This recurring discontent between managers and workers is not so surprising when we consider how the majority of all managers are promoted. Most are not given more responsibility because they can manage people effectively, but because they have probably helped to boost profits through their efforts with products, or they managed to attract the eye of the 'right' person, or have simply been competent at their job (as in teaching). Often it is not the people who are independent in thought, willing to take risks, those who welcome change or can take others with them who are promoted. It is more likely to be people who are good with products and resources, the ones who toe the line, conform to expectations and who are specially favoured often for obscure and questionable reasons.

Like the manager who spent most of the time in his office on his computer, leaving all the work to his deputies, only meeting with them when he had something to be critical about. He lacked the confidence to motivate his team and thought he was being effective by being detached from his staff and concentrating on other aspects of the establishment he deemed more important. But this did very little to boost staff morale or confidence. He probably would have been excellent in an administrative desk job, which did not depend so heavily on human resources and staff development. Yet, because of his qualifications, former experience, contacts and background, he was seen as an 'automatic' choice to lead people. However, it became increasingly clear that his skills were deficient in this area when staff began to vote with their feet!

The bottom line is that having an office and a title does not automatically make one a leader. The confidence and ability to motivate colleagues and to generate excellence are even more important. Thus the biggest single issue with management is the act of promoting staff who feel more comfortable at their desks, or with their pet project and products, than confident interaction with others. It is a lack of assurance and a misunderstanding of what the managerial role entails which tend to lead to poor management, lower productivity, less loyalty, more staff frustration and general apathy.

In essence, an organisation is only as good as its managers, who are only as good as their own individual people skills: that is, their capacity to appreciate, encourage, motivate and inspire the team they lead.

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About the Creator

Elaine Sihera

British Empowerment Coach/Public speaker/DEI Consultant. Author: The New Theory of Confidence and 7 Steps To Finding And Keeping 'The One'!. Graduate/Doctor of Open Univ; Postgrad Cambridge Univ. Keen on motivation, relationships and books.

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  • Test5 months ago

    . Your work is truly commendable.

  • Jay Kantor5 months ago

    Elaine - Marvelous - we are so alike it's amazing! You're always into Mottos ~ May I add with respect: *This banner hung over my office door, for years: "Don't ask a question if you're not prepared for the answer, ever." - My Fish for Themselves motto to Staff: "Don't keep running into my office for approval. Please make a mistake if you must - you won't make the same one the next time"...probably not management code - but, always worked for me. Wrote a short (can't remember which one - you ever do that now that you're on to your 102nd?) I think it was from 'Twins Secrets' or 'Pout' - Saying that tattoos slathered all over detract from our clients attention; 1st blush shouldn't be about them. - One of our more 'Formidable' VM Authors (that did a book report on 'The Art of Tattoos') reamed me out that "I can't appreciate the art." Elaine, I never said that at all...just that it detracted from my firms-focus at 1st exposure to us; who needs that. She hasn't spoken to me since. Thus, even-especially legal interpretation is subject to interpretation. Whew! Sorry, got that offa my chest. btw; miss water cooler gossip - other than the days the 'Topic" was about ME! - My Pleasure - j-bud in L.A.

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