Manager Employees Relationship

Manager Employees Relationship

Managers and employees are important for an organization since both of them play a crucial role for the efficient performance of the organization and hence, the relationship between them carries a lot of significance for the achievement of the goal and objectives of the organization.  The relationship between managers and employees sets the overall tone at the workplace. A poor relationship hinders the organizational success by dragging the employees’ morale down and hence limiting the productivity at the workplace, while a good relationship breeds a positive and functional work environment.

Manager and the employees both form a group in the organization. This group is to function in harmony to give the results. Effective interaction within this group develops team-working and harmonious relationship which is essential for the productivity of the organization. Organization functions efficiently when everyone feels valued and respects the feelings and emotions of the other. All the persons in the group need to look at their behaviour as well as to understand the behaviour of others in the group and the effect it has upon other members of the group. Achieving a balance is not always easy. There are several ideas, techniques and practical steps which are helpful in developing effective professional relationships between manager and the employees.

There are several factors which have substantial impact on the effective relationship between manager and employees (Fig 1). These are (i) helpful environment, (ii) effective communication, (iii) power, influence, and politics, (iv) working with groups and teams, (v) managing of self, (vi) setting of boundaries, (vii) resolutions of conflicts, and (viii) fostering of growth. Each of these are discussed in detail below.

Fig 1 Factors having substantial impact on the effective relationship between manager and employees

Helpful environment

A constructive relationship between manager and employees is maintained where a helpful environment is created. Under helpful environment, the relationship is managed with professional detachment. This needs a degree of self-awareness, skill and sensitivity in dealing with other people. This kind of working environment throws up a whole range of pressures on the day-to-day relationships which the manager needs to maintain.

A key aspect of managing relationships with the employees is to be honest, open and direct. This is the core of assertive behaviour. Clear, honest, open communication and assertiveness can help to reduce stress in interactions with the employees. The behaviour which is non-assertive has three different styles which consist of (i) aggressive, (ii) indirect, and (iii) submissive. Many of the managers tend to vary their style of communication depending on the circumstances and with whom they are talking to. Sometimes, however, a manager consistently uses a style which gets in the way of genuine dialogue with the employees.

Aggressive behaviour is directed at satisfying the individual’s needs without taking into account the needs and feelings of the employees. Indirect behaviour is directed at satisfying the needs and feelings of the employees while concealing or denying owns feeling. Indirect or manipulative behaviour is one form of hiding own needs and feelings. Submissive or passive behaviour is a form of non-assertive behaviour in which the individual denies their own needs.

Assertiveness is a key skill which can help the manager to manage in a better way the relationship with the employees in different situations. It helps the manager to influence the employees in order to gain acceptance, agreement or behaviour change.  Assertiveness is not about aggression, dominating or dismissing others in order to get what is wanted by the manager. Nor is it passive, failing to express by the manager adequately, being self-doubting or timid. It is the ability to express the opinions positively and with confidence. Assertive managers are in control of their own self and are honest with themselves and the employees.


Clear and open communication between the manager and the employees is necessary in the workplace. Poor or nonexistent communication can lead to missed deadlines, confusion, low morale and a host of other problems. Employees who feel as if they don’t have a say in anything or an established direction often feel undervalued, which can contribute to high turnover and poor morale. Conversely, a manager who is not getting feedback from the employees is unable to do his job properly.

Communication is a key for successful and effective manager employees’ relationship. Much of the communication is normally formal. In case of non-clear communication, the employees interpret the same experience differently. Generally there are several barriers which get in the way of clear communication.

Effective communication requires effective strategy and a coherent plan of action. Communication strategies, systems and practices play a major role in effective manager employees’ relationship. This in turn results into high performance and influences the energy levels for change and improvement. Improvement of communication means giving attention to the words being used and how they are being used as well as the ability to listen.

No matter how good the communication system in an organisation is, unfortunately barriers can and do often occur. These barriers include (i) language which means that the communication message might not use vocabulary which is understood by the receiver (for example, too much use of technical or financial jargon), (ii) noise which means various things stop a message from getting through or being heard, e.g. poor connection, background noise, distractions, and too many people speaking etc., (iii) overload which means too much of information which can become difficult for a person to assimilate, (iv)  emotions which means that the relationship between the sender and receiver of communication can adversely affect the message and hence it can be ignored or misinterpreted, (v) gaps which means too many of layers in hierarchy through which the message has to be passed and it can prevent or distort the message, and (vi) inconsistency which means people receiving conflicting or inconsistent messages and hence they can ignore them.

It is essential to put in place strategies to deal with the identified barriers. The different types of barriers to effective communication can all reinforce each other, leading to vicious cycles. By anticipating potential barriers and attempting to avoid them wherever possible, the impact of communication can become greatly increased.

Power, influence and politics

According to various theories on management, people are ‘sense- makers’. That is to say, they are engaged in reading and ascribing motives to the behaviour of others. Being able to process this information and predict the actions and reactions of others can make people more effective in managing the complexities which confront them in the organization.

Employees actively pursue their personal goals, and manager is no exception to this. People perceive and interpret their environment, and subsequently adapt and make choices in line with what they believe is realistic in that context or environment. In these ways people formulate strategies which are designed to fulfill their goals. However, the way in which people interpret their environment is shaped by their own experience and values. Employees have their own views through which they interpret their perceptions of the environment.

For supporting an effective relationship, manager and the employees generally find it helpful to have some awareness of the different interests and views of their colleagues. Getting progress and understanding on a particular issue happen more quickly when the manager is able to start where the employees are, and move them towards a shared sense of purpose.

How clear is the understanding of the manager to embody his personal values and beliefs which are consistent with the environment, enables him to contribute towards building a positive and encouraging atmosphere and building a sense of common purpose with the employees.

Working with groups and teams

Organizations are made up of groups and teams which need to work together. Organizational employees are also part of several groups and teams. Hence, the relationship of employees and the manager is affected by the group and team dynamics. Despite the fact that both the manager and the employees are all group and/or team participants in one form or another, it is rare for the employees to stop and think why people behave in a particular way. It is only when a problem arises that people are alerted to the fact that something has gone wrong.

Organizational management consists of a group or team of people who meet to make decisions. In order to do that, they consider those information, ideas and problems which are available with them. The information, ideas and problems are the content for taking decisions and these reach to the management through a process. The performance of a group or team is the process issues. In other words how the group or team is addressing the content issues. Process is the oiling of the content wheels. Process ensures that content does not become stalled or seized on the way. Both the process and the content are important for taking the decisions. Ignorance of the process leads to wrong decisions. Process is about (i) how communication is handled, (ii) who is talking to whom, and (iii) the methods by which the a decision is made, e.g. consensus-seeking, polling or unanimity.

The factors which can obstruct the progress of a group or team include (i) emotional issues  such as personal conflict between members, (ii) identity such as a younger, possibly less experienced, member feels apprehensive or intimidated by other members, (iii) power such as the autocratic behaviour of a manager discourages debate, (iv) alienation such as a new member has not had a satisfactory induction and is not sure whether others accept him as legitimate contributor, and (v) environmental such as meeting room conditions, temperature, refreshments, and size of room etc.

All groups and teams establish norms of behaviour, i.e. codes of acceptable conduct through which the group and team works. The key issue here is whether the norms help the group or team to be effective, or work against it. There are a number of stages any group or team must go through in order to establish effective working relationships. These stages are ‘forming’ ‘storming’, ‘norming’ and ‘performing’. During this process, individuals test out each other’s commitment, goals, priorities, etc. Only after that norms can be established and the group move towards performing effectively in a cohesive way. Regular changes in group or team membership tend to impede this process.

Managing of self

Employees are working with the manager inside and outside the organization to contribute towards the effective working of the organization. The relationship between manager and the employees is often complex and can be much enhanced by the emotional intelligence of both the manager and the employees.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the emotions, understand what they are telling, and realize how the emotions may be affecting the people around. Emotional intelligence also involves the perception of others, when it is understand how they feel. This allows one to manage relationships more effectively.

A study has indicated that although technical skills and cognitive ability have some importance at senior management levels, emotional intelligence characterizes the most competent and successful manager. There are four capabilities which are required for the emotional intelligence. These are (i) self-awareness which is the ability to read and understand the emotions of self and their impact on others and it consists of the self-confidence and realistic evaluation of one’s strengths and weaknesses, (ii) self-management which consists of self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, adaptability, initiative and a drive to meet an internally set standard of excellence, (iii) social awareness which consists of empathy (the skill of sensing other people’s emotions/perspective), organizational awareness, and recognizing other people’s needs, and (iv) social skill which is the ability to inspire, influence and develop others such as communication skills, conflict management, building bonds and promoting co-operation.

The more a manager is capable in these four aspects of emotional intelligence; the better is the manager employees’ relationship.

Setting of boundaries

While being friendly at work is not a bad thing, a manager is not to engage in very close relationships with the employees. An employee who views the manager as a close friend may not recognize his authority when necessary. Also other co-employees may view positive actions by the manager towards an overly friendly employee as acts of favoritism, fostering tension and low morale. If an employee and the manager’s close relationship get disturbed, the resulting fall-out can affect the entire workplace.

Resolutions of conflicts

Good conflict resolution between employees and management is necessary for better manager employees’ relationship. A lingering dispute between employees and management influences morale, productivity, and efficiency of the employees due to the tension prevailing in the work environment. There is a requirement to have formal and informal processes available to employees to air grievances and address conflicts. Employees need to have clear paths to discuss problems and manager is to work with them to resolve issues as soon as possible to minimize the effect on morale. This is essential for a healthy manager employees’ relationship.

Fostering of growth

Employees need goals to aspire to, as set and encouraged by management. Employees without a career advancement path or a voice in the organization frequently do not feel motivated to move beyond basic performance needed for the job. Management has to develop and guide talent to develop a loyal and stable workforce which can fill the needs of the present and future. This is very much needed for a healthy manager employees’ relationship.

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