What Do Our Managers REALLY Want From Us?

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

If I was to ask 1,000 managers what they really want from an employee, what do you think they would say? At the nub of it, managers desire excellence more than anything else. How do we know if we are delivering excellence?

Excellence is subjective. Excellent to me might be mediocre to you, but I can guarantee that there is one single measure that you can rely on. That’s your own view of it.

I am a big fan of knowing what my colleagues within my organization think of me – and I ask it directly. Measuring feedback is an important activity for any determined employee, and there are great tools to achieve it to boot (e.g. 360 degree feedback).

Then again… an even greater measure of excellence to me is how I feel about the quality of service I deliver to my employer. I don’t mean that to sound narcissistic. I mean that if I don’t believe I am delivering excellence to my employer, then I know that I can do more for them. (And chances are, my employers feel the same way too!)

We all know how excellent we can be; whether it’s going that extra mile on a project, even if it isn’t asked for, or putting in higher quality ingredients – you get the picture. And we all know when we’re not giving excellence too. Perhaps it’s a question of conscience, but after the occasions I know I haven’t been excellent, I felt I hadn’t done my duty by them and then felt less confidence in the ongoing business relationship. I’ve worried about whether my manager will complain, or (even worse) fire me without saying a word. I’ve been on tenterhooks the next time I went into their office, and perhaps it showed too.

Do excellence and self-interest conflict?

I don’t think so. Sure, we have to draw the line in quality somewhere to ensure what we do actually delivers, and it is personally profitable. But if I knew I could deliver better quality, and still make the profit I expect, then I would do it.

I don’t know about you but I love it when I get a surprise when something is received better than I expected?

The last time that happened is when I got my iPhone. Not the latest version though…

What We Can Learn from Apple Inc

My iPhone was wonderful, but not always. This is when the new iPhone 4 came out and Apple also released new software for my version. I rely on my iPhone, and the experience was terrible. It crashed, buttons not working, etc. The business tool I came to rely on the most let me down. And what are we as employees? We’re business tools.

The thing is, Apple can be excellent. Truly excellent. They have proven that. But that time, they let me down because they rushed the product and new software to market, probably cut corners on testing it, and it blew up in their face. I am not as confident, now, if I will buy another iPhone again.


What I have learned from Apple is this:

Selling an employer short is bad for our career and personal profit. The short term gains are insignificant to the damage done. Managers expect excellence from us, and what’s more, so should we.

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