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Do Workers Take Caring Bosses for Granted?

Do Workers Take Caring Bosses for Granted?

According to a study by IMD business school of Switzerland, caring bosses who help employees with their personal and work problems shouldn’t expect gratitude, loyalty and commitment in return.

While most managers believe offering emotional support will benefit their company, most employees simply view such shows of kindness as part of their superiors’ duties and have no intention of working any harder.

“Managers tend to regard emotional support as above and beyond their responsibilities and therefore worthy of reciprocation in the form of greater commitment,” says Ginka Toegel, Professor and Researcher at IMD. “Unfortunately, employees just don’t see it like that. They view emotional support as part and parcel of what their superiors do and are paid good money for.”

In collaboration with University College London, IMD carried out an in-depth study of workers at a successful recruiting agency specializing in providing managers for the service sector.

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, concludes, “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 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.”

The study is published in the latest issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

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