4 things that every employee wants from their manager

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few years about how to create more positive workplaces and increase employee engagement. It’s no wonder. Countless studies show a direct correlation between engaged employees and improved customer experience, workplace safety, quality, retention, lower absenteeism – the list goes on.

“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

There’s a wonderful piece of wisdom from Zig Ziglar that: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” The same principle is also true when leading employees.

As leaders, we have high expectations of our employees. We expect them to be innovative, productive, resilient, dependable, friendly, caring – and a hundred other things. It only makes sense that the easiest way to get what we want from our team is to first make sure that we are giving them what they want. Sure, it sounds kind of scary when I just blurt it out like that, but it’s actually a whole lot easier than you might think.

Over the last 25 years, I’ve had the privilege of talking with thousands of employees in hundreds of companies as we do consulting, and assessments for our customer service and leadership training programs. As you might expect, during these conversations, I’ve learned a lot about the things that frustrate employees and motivate them.

If you care about customer experience, this is ‘required reading.’ Find out why people are raving about The Journey to WOW!

D.A.R.T. : The 4 Things Your Employees Want From You

Interestingly, although much has changed over the years in our understanding of leadership principles and practices, the fundamental things that employees want from their bosses really hasn’t. They fall into four categories, and we’ll be covering them over two posts. Hopefully they will make sense — because they are likely the same four things that you are looking for from your bosses. The acronym (by happenstance rather than design) is D.A.R.T.


When you come home at the end of the day, and people ask you, “How was your day?” how do you typically answer? If you’re like most people, it’s with a shrug and a variation of “meh.”

The reason we answer this way is because, well, we really just don’t know. We go to work, eat lunch, work, then come home. Although we might accomplish a lot, there’s no sense of having achieved a goal. That’s where we, as leaders, come in.

Give Your Employees Something to Aim For

Every day (seriously — I mean every day), you need to communicate to each of your team members what a win looks like for that day. You need to give them the opportunity to answer the “How was your day” question with a concrete answer. Make sure they know every day what you are expecting.

It doesn’t have to be anything formal. It can be as simple as walking past someone’s office and saying, “Hey, Alicia, you going to be able to get that report done today?” In just two seconds of your time, Alicia now knows what a win looks like in your eyes. Remember the Rule of the Sharpshooter: “You can’t hit what you don’t aim for.” Give your employees something to aim for.


This is HUGE.

The most common reason employees leave, or don’t engage with, a workplace is that they feel underappreciated. There are vast mountains of research supporting how critical appreciation is to workplace satisfaction.

Sadly, most of us aren’t very good at making our employees feel appreciated. We either don’t think of it, or we are afraid of overdoing it. If there is one thing you can start doing right now to create higher levels of employee satisfaction and engagement, it’s ramping up the appreciation.  

In my entire career, I’ve never heard of an employee complaining because their boss says too many nice things about them.

Don’t be that leader who people talk about because you never say “Thank you,” or “Well done.” Afraid of overdoing it? Don’t be. In my entire career, I’ve never heard of an employee complaining because their boss says too many nice things about them. There is no downside – zero – to appreciating people’s efforts. In fact, the research tells us that giving people compliments activates the same part of the brain as if you’re giving them cash.

You can find the “R” and “T” in DARTs here. Have fun!

A leadership position isn’t nearly as important as a leadership disposition

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