At some point or other in our careers, we all have come across the toxic boss or manager: the supervisor who is moody, aggressive, unpredictable and always blaming other people. It has always been acknowledged that these types of managers prevent staff doing their jobs and fulfilling their duties. Now, a new study by a research team led by KEDGE Business School, published in the Journal of Management, shows that the performance of employees and their professional enrichment increases when their manager cares about their family lives and the problems they may encounter.
Starting from the fact that everyday life can be difficult for employees in successfully balancing work and family life, Marcello Russo, Assistant Professor at KEDGE BS, explains, “The prolonged economic crisis is leading many employees to work longer hours in order to demonstrate a commitment to their employers and to keep their jobs. As a result, they are less able to spend the time they would like in their family life. Our work confirms that the support received, particularly from a supervisor, is critical in helping employees to successfully handle these competing demands.” The study examined the positive effects on employees generated by working with a supervisor who is supportive of their family-related problems. It surveyed 512 employees; 156 Italian, 356 Chinese. The findings were encouraging, showing that a caring manager enhances the perception of working in a supportive environment where employees feel free to discuss their family-related problems and to seek help. This type of accessible manager helps to provide access to psychological resources that employees can use to cope successfully with competing work and family demands, and stimulates the undertaking of proactive behaviours and self-development initiatives that are crucial to thrive at work. A family-supportive supervisor favours the development of resources, including knowledge, positive affect and networks.
This study also drew on previously published research, and defines a family supportive supervisor through four distinct traits: 1) Someone who provides emotional support and shows sympathy towards employees’ family and personal life commitments 2) A person who gives support and offer day-to-day assistance and resources to help with the employees’ management of work-family demands 3) Is a role model for staff and can successfully themselves handle competing work and family demands 4) Undertakes creative work-family initiatives aimed at improving the work in a way that can both reduce an individual’s work-family tensions and improve organisational results.
The workplace should be a positive influence on people’s lives. Yet, for too many, it’s just not the case. Previous studies show that staff experience a lots of stress in their work, which can adversely affect their well being. This research shows that leaders can create a culture that gives people meaningful relationships that fulfill their work needs. This shift in perspective is key to promote workplace optimism and results.
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