What is the formula for the perfect boss

Bosses being honest, approachable and fair is key for UK workers, with just one in ten believing their boss is sincere, new research discovers.

Most adults have a good idea of the qualities and skills most employers look for in prospective new staff, but new research has turned the tables on this – revealing the attributes that workers believe make up the ideal boss, and how UK managers match up to them.

Research published by workplace incentives and rewards provider, One4all Rewards, in its UK Management Review Whitepaper, polled 1,024 UK employees on the qualities they would value the most in bosses and how their own bosses match up to the perfect picture.

The research reveals being honest was the highest valued quality for UK workers (41 per cent) – something many would expect from their bosses. The second most important quality for more than one in three (35 per cent) British workers is being approachable.

An ideal boss would also be fair for almost one in four (24 per cent) workers and understandably, a similar number (23 per cent) preferred their manager or boss to be organised.

Another interpersonal quality which was highly coveted in UK bosses was sincerity – more than one in five (21 per cent) feel strongly about this.

The data also reveals how strong an impact a positive boss-employee relationship can have. One in four workers say having a good working relationship with their boss would mean they would be more likely to stay at a company for the long term (e.g. five years or more).

However, the research finds that few UK managers matched up to expectations as just 23 per cent feel their boss was honest – suggesting a major gap in trust in many British companies.

As for those workers who think their management should be approachable, the same number (23 per cent) currently describe their bosses this way.

Being fair made one of the top three qualities for an ideal boss; worryingly, this was a trait that appears to be lacking in the UK workforce, as just 15 per cent describe their manager as fair.

Organisation skills can sometimes seem like a basic requirement for any management role, yet the data could suggest that many are not seeing examples of this in their bosses’ behaviour, with just 18 per cent believing their boss is organised.

In comparison to sincerity being a key attribute for UK workers, just ten per cent feel their boss is sincere.

Female workers are the most likely to value a boss who is approachable (44 per cent), while male workers covet honesty above anything else (45 per cent).

Alan Smith, UK managing director at One4all Rewards, says, ‘Bosses should take note – as our research has shown, the relationship an employee has with their boss can be really key. Maintaining these relationships and being a good manager is about more than just the finished product, or numbers on a spreadsheet.

‘A good leader inspires workers to want to work hard and has the kind of relationship that means if an employee is having a problem or is unhappy, they will feel comfortable approaching them to discuss it. Similarly, people also need to be able to be able to place a degree of trust in their boss. Without trust and sincerity, feedback – both good and bad – is unlikely to be believed or taken seriously. ‘

Smith continues, ‘What I find particularly interesting about these findings is how many of the qualities we look for in an employer mirror those a lot of people would also seek out in new friendships outside of the workplace. Bosses don’t need to be friends with their employees, but having the basics of a respectful and honest relationship is important. In addition to these findings, our previous research found that 83 per cent of British workers admitted being regularly thanked by an employer increases the sense of loyalty they feel to their company.

‘There is so much advice out there about the intricacies of leadership that it can be quite easy to sometimes forget that, ultimately, people want to be managed by trustworthy, approachable and organised human beings.’

Further reading on bosses

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

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