The Three Reasons I Conducted the Research Summarized in This Book
I wanted to know what employees most wanted from their managers – plainly and simply, in their own words. This idea is known as employee voice. In the academic sense, employee voice is about employees being able to contribute to decision-making in a way that leads to improvements in the organization of work and in the quality and productivity of work output. While it may be hard to believe, employee voice has been largely absent in the development of leadership theories; this seems wrong to me. We know that employees having voice contributes to both higher engagement and improved performance and deters voluntary turnover. So, it seems blindingly obvious that we should seek the voice of employees in what they most want from their managers, the very agents who direct their work, evaluate their performance, and influence their compensation and development opportunities.
I wanted a universal set of facts – not facts based only on the voice of workers in the United States. I wanted to combine employee voice with the wisdom of a worldwide crowd. Wisdom of the crowd refers to the idea that the aggregated judgment of many individuals can be more accurate than the judgments of individual experts. My version of this concept ratcheted the idea up in two ways. First, I believed employee voice on what employees most want in a manager might outweigh in value what a limited number of experts had to say. And secondly, I believed that the voice of a worldwide crowd trumped the voice of a one-country crowd. Experts tell us that for crowds to be wise, they must satisfy three conditions: they must be diverse, independent, and decentralized. My research meets these conditions: my crowd includes employees from 27 countries, working for different bosses, and unknown to one another.
I wanted to know if the facts matter – do they help explain outcomes we care about. The facts are that there are eight universal attributes that summarize what employees most want from their immediate managers. A skeptic might ask: So what and who cares? I believed in my heart of hearts that there would be great gains for managers who show up in a way that match these employee preferences. But I needed evidence to prove my belief. So, I collected more data. And here is what I found: the more that managers display the attributes employees most want, the higher the levels of subordinate employee engagement and the stronger the performance of the team. Bottom-line: the managers who do a great job of displaying these attributes are the best managers, the very ones who get the highest performance ratings. I am glad I conducted this research and documented these findings. These facts matter. They illuminate the pathway to greater success for managers and a better work experience for employees.