What Your Employees Don’t Need From You

What a pleasure life would be to live if everybody would try to do only half of what he expects others to do.

–William J.H. Boetcker

I read a story about a farm boy got a white football for Christmas. He played with it a while and accidentally kicked it over into the neighbor’s yard. The old rooster ran out, looked at it, and called the hens to see it. “Now look here,” the rooster told them, “I don’t want you to think I’m complaining, but I want you to see what they are doing next door.”

Ask most people at their place of business what they need from their employers to be more successful or productive on the job and they will be quick to tell you. But when you ask them what they don’t need in order to be more productive is when things get interesting.

Knowing what your people need to succeed is important, but also knowing what they don’t need from you will certainly help.

Here are four things to start with.

Your negative attitude

In as much as positive attitudes are contagious, so too, are negatives ones. If you make it a habit to circulate among your people with a bad attitude, always finding fault, only focusing on what’s wrong, then your presence will be a demoralizing factor. The truth be told, your people may have every tool they need to succeed but if you have a negative attitude then it is hindering them.

Your indifference

Everyone wants to be appreciated, valued, and wants to believe that their work makes a difference. But if you come across as indifferent to their work, ideas, and contributions then you are sending signals that they are unimportant to you. If you place no value in your people then how can you expect them to place value in their work? Indifference breeds indifference and the results will be devastating.

Your Obstruction

Your leadership style will either facilitate the progress of your people or it will stand in their way. If you burden people down with unnecessary policies and procedures, time-wasting meetings, or ill-timed interruptions then you are in the way. Your employees should not be made to pay the price for your poor time management skills. Don’t allow the “tyranny of the urgent” to be an obstruction to your people.

Your Inconsistencies

While most of your people will never speak up about this, don’t mistake it for not noticing. Inconsistent actions by management always send the wrong message. When you communicate one thing and do another then you have planted doubt and mistrust in the minds of your people. Your employees don’t need mixed messages. It only creates confusion and animosity.


Doug Dickerson
Doug Dickerson
DOUG has been speaking to audiences in the U.S. and overseas for more than 30 years. Doug knows how to spin a story, make you laugh, and how to challenge your traditional ways of thinking about leadership. Most of all, Doug is committed to helping you grow as a leader. Doug is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida and studied Clinical Pastoral Education at Palmetto Baptist Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. While his leadership expertise has its roots in ministry and teaching. His background also includes public relations and business. Doug understands the necessity of leadership development and why creating a leadership culture in your organization is critical to your success. He is the author of four leadership books including: Leaders Without Borders, 9 Essentials for Everyday Leaders, Great Leaders Wanted, It Only Takes a Minute: Daily Inspiration for Leaders on the Move, and Leadership by the Numbers. As a speaker, Doug delivers practical and applicable leadership insights with a dose of humor and authenticity that endears him to a wide range of audiences. Doug is a John Maxwell Team member.

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  1. Interesting and worthy of endorsement contents.
    Knowing the real expectations of employees helps to be better managers.
    Relationships are the only real resource of a leader. We must therefore pay close attention to those who are in front of us, prepare themselves, read up, try to understand who they are, what they want, what they feel and what excites them.

  2. Thanks Doug for boiling down some very important points that too many take for granted because they can be somewhat nuanced – more about the “how” than the “what.” They are very real and require sincere care and thought. I know some work cultures wear managers down. I hope we can help them rediscover the noble purpose in leading. One place to start is by bringing more positivity, care, facilitation, and consistency, as you describe, and seeing the results. Great points!

  3. What great insight for leadership in any capacity Doug. No doubt most of us can recall working for people who modelled leadership in the above ways – or not. I tried to choose the best traits of people I worked for, planning to put them into practice when I found myself in the lead role. I wanted people to want to do a good job. For me the biggest challenge was trusting folks enough to delegate. Love the Boetcker quote! So true. Great piece. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Doug, I agree with all of your points. Certain employee behaviors or employer behaviors can take a business and make it a non-business. There is no shortage of do’s and don’t do’s that make things very complicated. Great article, Doug