Psychology of Managers, be a Better Boss

This post will go into the psychology, personality traits and motivations of managers, plus giving some examples of counter productive managing techniques to achieve being a better boss.

Personality Traits of ManagersPsychology of Managers, be a Better Boss

Obviously those people who become managers are not all the same. However there are certain traits and motivators that many share, and these traits also become good predictors for future managers.

The main trait is conscientiousness, this trait includes the related sub traits of achievement seeking, orderliness, disciplined, industriousness and dutifulness. These are the traits most connected to those who take on the responsibility of a management role. Another predictor is a psychological motivation to have control over others. This motivation is likely to be high in current and aspiring managers. Of course there are always exceptions.

Those who are high in trait conscientiousness have certain strengths and weaknesses. They tend to have a strong work ethic, they’re organized, decisive, judge quickly and make quick decisions, which can be a strength. However judging quickly can also be a weakness, quick judgments are usually based on limited information which could lead to mistakes. Those high in conscientiousness also tend to be more close minded and rigid or linear in their thinking. Conscientiousness is one of the big five personality traits.

Counter Productive Techniques

Micro Managing

Micro managing is controlling or monitoring every single aspect of their workers, and not trusting them to do things for themselves. Micro managing is when the conscientious trait and, or the desire to control others becomes extreme. The desire to control others can turn into intimidation tactics to fulfill that desire. Example intimidation tactics are standing behind employees excessively for long periods of time.

Standing behind and pressuring employees is an incredibly short sighted and brute force managing style. This pressure style results in increased levels of stress and anxiety within many employees. The increased levels of stress and anxiety increases the chance of mistakes, and it can lower staff morale and potentially cause health problems and absences from work. Passive aggressive employees will also resist to this style of management.

This aggressive managing style goes against recommendations from top applied psychologists who study the most effective methods for getting the most out of employees. If there are certain members of staff that aren’t pulling their weight, they should be dealt with individually, and not target all staff, which is what many micro managing tactics often do.

Micro managing can also lead to a very patronizing and/or condescending attitude and ways of dealing with staff. These managers can have a general belief that they’re more competent than their staff, making various negative assumptions about the competence of others, or simply not trusting them. This attitude can obviously be insulting to others, affecting comfort levels in the work place and generally having a negative impact on employee morale.

This attitude can stem from a distorted view of their own competence, and a need to feel important with a strong desire for ego gratification. This leads to egotistical thinking and an excessive need to boost up their ego. They over inflate their own importance and competence, and play down the competence of others. Some of these managers are more interested in their ego and social status, rather than actually getting a job completed. A certain amount of trust and freedom needs to be given to employees to get the best out of them.

Using Scripted Techniques

Most companies already provide managers with tips and suggestions when dealing with employees and getting the most out of them. However when over used, they can have the opposite effect.

Recognition of Efforts

One of the most common tips managers are given is to show appreciation and to say thanks to their employees after or during the working day or shift. The idea behind this is specifically to target the person’s psychological desire (recognition of efforts), in order to make the employee feel valued, and perhaps more motivated in the future.

Many applied psychologists believe the human desire for (recognition of efforts) is one of the top motivators or desires that people have. So to appeal to this desire sounds like a reasonable thing for a manager to do. However when managers do this because they are advised to, they’re essentially just reading a script, attempting to manipulate their employees by purposefully trying to appeal to their psychological motivators. When people become aware of manipulation attempts, such as using obvious scripted techniques, it can result in an opposite or negative reaction.

This is also true when managers try to help those that they believe are in some form of mental distress or difficultly, asking if “they’re okay” to show support. It’s a simple scripted action which can make a situation worse, or differently not better if that employee is aware of the scripted reason why they were asked.

Don’t just follow scripted lines for the purpose of manipulation. Those people that are aware of the reasons behind this find it patronizing and generally insulting. Individuals and situations need to be taken into account. If you’re going to say something, make sure you’re being genuine.

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