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Former Googler and cofounder of Humu explains the disconnect between what employees say they need and what managers are trained to provide.

Bringing out the best in an employee requires understanding who they are as an individual. This has always been true, but against the backdrop of a period of significant loss and hardship for many, tapping into the human side of leadership has become critical. Employees’ expectations have also shifted significantly, and they are increasingly seeking out opportunities that give them flexibility, autonomy, and balance.  

Management has traditionally been stereotypically associated with, and has rewarded, traits that are perceived as “masculine,” while treating soft skills as more “feminine” extras rather than a core element of good leadership. Both men and managers have stereotypically been perceived as “objective,” “assertive,” “driven,” and “authoritative.” These characteristics have been viewed as “standard” management skills because they imply the ability to accomplish tasks, and are necessary for ensuring a team meets deadlines and adheres to quality standards.  

People who are promoted or hired into management roles typically have demonstrated success as individual contributors or successful project managers, but that doesn’t automatically make them good people managers.  

Manager job descriptions also need to emphasize the importance of a growth mindset for candidates and new hires. While this mindset is now taught in many schools, it’s a newer concept for many in middle management. The perception that managers are automatically high performers with a strong grasp on their work can hinder career evolution both for the manager and for direct reports. In the workplace, a growth mindset involves acknowledging room for improvement, actively seeking feedback from above and below, and making noticeable progress.

Read the complete Fast Company article BY JESSICA WISDOM:

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