Ever wanted to know what your supervisor / Managers expect of you, the boss? Having facilitated hundreds of Managers in leadership training courses and focus groups, the answer to the simple questions ‘What skills and qualities do you expect of your Manager?’ and ‘What skills and qualities do your people expect from you?’ are remarkably consistent.

From banking to printing, military to Government Departments, manufacturing to telecommunications, the expectations of supervisors are clear and consistent.

Here are the top 5 expectations that supervisors / managers (middle management) have of their senior leaders (Manager / CEO):

1. Give me clear direction. 

Almost all of the supervisors / Managers that we spoke with metioned a lack of direction as a clear source of frustration in their boss. What do you want them to do? What do you expect them to achieve (think beyond KPI’s and numbers)? What does success look like for the people that work for you?

2. Tell me how my work fits into the big picture.  Why is it important?

The Managers that work for you can tell when you are just repeating the words that have been passed down to you. They want to know, in your own words, how they / you / your Division fit into the bigger picture and why you think what they do is important. The first step is to clearly understand your role and know what the overall goal of the business is; if you can’t articulate it to your people, don’t expect them to follow you when you say jump.

3. Coach me. Don’t solve my problems for me.

This was one response that differed greatly depending on whether the question was pitched at staff members or Managers. Managers don’t want to look stupid in front of their senior Managers – they want the ability to learn and find things out for themselves, not be treated like an idiot. Being treated like an idiot can fall into two categories, each of which can have negative results. The first category is being left alone with no help – the results of this are obvious. The second is training me rather than coaching me – pitching the learning at such a low level; not being catered to individual knowledge and experience, so that the recipient feels like they are being demeaned.

4. Be honest with me.

This doesn’t mean tell me all of the inner details of who is getting bonuses, who is being performance managed and your personal opinion of the CEO.

It does mean:

  • Tell me what you want
  • Tell me what you mean
  • Tell me what level you want it completed to

5. Treat me like a person.

Ask me how I am going occasionally. The nod and the grunt as you walk down the hallway won’t cut it. Yes – they do notice when you don’t pay attention to them. How about remembering the name of my partner and what I am interested in. Or perhaps remembering my birthday and taking the time to get up from your desk and come to me personally and say ‘Happy Birthday!’. It might be small but it has a major impact on what your people think of you.

Provide direction, explain their role and how they fit in plain English, coach, be honest and treat them like you want to be treated. Simple requirements gleaned from hundreds of Managers – yet so many senior Managers either fail to realise that this is what is expected or do a poor job in showing it.

What do you want from your senior Manager? What do you want from the Managers / supervisors that are working for you? Why not use this list as a starting point for a discussion with your management group – what do they expect?