LAUSANNE, Switzerland, July 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Caring bosses who help
employees with their personal and work problems shouldn't expect
gratitude, loyalty and commitment in return, new research has warned.
According to a study by IMD business school, most managers believe
offering emotional support will benefit their company. Yet most
employees simply view such shows of kindness as part of their
superiors' duties and have no intention of working any harder by way of
As a result, bosses who lend a helping hand must manage their own
expectations, as they may find themselves frustrated with their staff's
lack of appreciation.
Research co-author Professor Ginka Toegel said: "Managers and employees
alike appreciate that controlling negative emotions can be important
within an organization."
"But it seems there's a marked difference in how the two parties believe
this sort of support should be perceived and how they think employees
should respond to it."
"Managers tend to regard emotional support as beyond their
responsibilities and therefore worthy of reciprocation in the form of
"For example, they might think an employee they have helped should have
no qualms about working a little bit harder or staying later to meet a
"Unfortunately, employees just don't see it like that. They view
emotional support as part of what their superiors do and are paid good
"Consequently, shows of gratitude may never arrive - and negativity can
end up perpetuated not by the employee but by the manager, who feels
terribly let down."
The findings emerged from an in-depth study of workers at a successful
recruiting agency that specializes in providing managers for the
Dozens of employees took part in interviews and questionnaires to
examine whom they turned to for emotional help and how they felt such
support should be viewed.
Around three quarters of lower-level workers and middle managers
reported receiving support from their superiors - but not one expressed
a feeling of personal debt.
Professor Anand Narasimhan, also of IMD, said: "Some managers expressed
social motives for offering support - 'Christian spirit', for example,
or 'the right thing to do.'"
"But even they expected they would gain something in return, perhaps in
the form of increased recognition from those they helped."
"The fact is that managers do benefit from a happy team in terms of
productivity and results, even without any additional displays of
loyalty and commitment."
"Based on our findings, maybe the lesson for all concerned is to avoid
unrealistic expectations - especially in an era when so much of
economic life is built on services."
The study, which was carried out in collaboration with University
College London, is published in the latest issue of the Academy of
IMD is a top-ranked business school. We work with individuals, teams and
organizations - to resolve their issues, build capabilities and prepare
for the future. (http://www.imd.org)
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