Business Transformation

4 ways to become someone people actually want to work for

Dr. Dominic Mcloughlin

Managing people is not easy. Each person has had different experience of previous workplaces. They also have different expectations of their manager and different ways of communicating. However, to become a manager that people want to work for is within our own control. Managers need to be both professionally good and of good character (Sison, 2003, Harvard, 2007).

A new survey of over 1100 people from several countries, asked them to think of their best manager ever, and agree or disagree with a number of character statements about that manager. There were responses from working people across the US, UK, Canada, Australia, the Philippines and others.

The findings showed the five qualities of a good people manager (2022) – being trustworthy, creating a learning environment, be genuinely concerned for team members and be consultative.

  1. Become Trustworthy
    In order to be someone that people want to work for, the first goal is to build trust, because trust is essential for initiating and maintaining social relationships at work (Dirks and de Jong, 2022). The long-term success of a team is built on trust. If a manager can increase the amount of thrust that their team have in them, the team will be much happier, more productive, and more willing to contribute ideas for improving things (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002). A common misconception for new managers is that because they are now a manager, they have to have all the answers, that they have to be perfect.

    This is not really possible in reality, and quickly leads to burnout. It is much better for a manager to say ‘I’m not sure, but I will find out’, than to give a quick answer that turns out to be wrong. Teams are always assessing their manager through the observable behaviour as well as the words. To become someone that people want to work for the daily interactions with the team must reveal who you are as the person behind the title.

  2. Create a Learning Environment
    The managers people want to work for are able to foster a learning environment, where team members are not afraid to make mistakes, but are focused on learning from them. Good people managers help to create this environment by taking responsibility for their own actions, and decisions. Most importantly, good people managers admit when they make a mistake (2022). People want to work for someone who is down to earth and genuine.

    Similarly, the sharing of knowledge and team members learning for each other is a key to a successful workplace. Publicly recognising the good ideas that the team share is very useful for building this environment. The rewards don’t have t be expensive – they can be things like praise, gift cards and lunches. Sometimes it might be something larger, such as the opportunity to do a training course or support for a promotion.

  3. Be Concerned for People
    Good people managers strike an appropriate balance between the needs of individuals, the team and the organisation. They think about the needs of team members before their own needs, and are prepared to sacrifice their own comfort to help out where needed. The managers people want to work for are often described as selfless.

    This genuine concern enhances each team member’s job satisfaction, but it also enhances business performance because collaboration and innovation are the key to creating value (Gronum, 2019). Being interested in the professional growth of people, means that good people managers provide opportunities such as training, coaching and mentoring which increases the knowledge and skills of the whole team over time.

  4. Be Consultative
    Openness and good listening is also important for good decision making (HBR, 2020). Good people managers make decisions that consider the impact on the business, but they also involve the team in the decision-making process. Research shows that participation by team members in decisions leads to greater job satisfaction and feeling trusted (Guinot, Monfort, and Chiva, 2001). This approach is enacted by being as transparent as possible, explaining exactly how and why decisions are being made within the organisation. Good people managers can overcome difficulties by working with the team to find the best solutions when change is needed (2022). 

These key areas are all within the control of a manager. These qualities can all be improved through practice.  By being intentional about the practice of these qualities, everyone has the opportunity to become someone people want to work for.

Written by Dr. Dominic Mcloughlin.
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Dr. Dominic Mcloughlin
Dr. Dominic Mcloughlin (MAITD) is a People Management Specialist and author of the new book, Be A Better Manager in 5 Minutes a Day. Dominic has 20 years of experience in Leadership and People Management helping thousands to be better at managing their people.

Dr. Dominic Mcloughlin is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Connect with him through LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.