The Department of Work and Pensions has found that front line staff who work in high performing Housing Benefit Offices of local councils prefer their managers to have a steady management style rather than that of a strong visionary driver. They want their managers to be “on top of the detail” and meticulous so they can provide advice and give them support. This trait also provides comfort for senior managers who want to be assured the service is in safe hands.Other qualities staff admire in their managers are an open listening style, getting the best from others, humour and a refusal to suffer fools. Staff also look to their managers to set an example for “integrity”, “honesty” and “trust” and it is by these values that they are enthused and motivated to perform at the higher levels. Staff at middle and junior management levels tend to find it difficult relating to high level corporate values.
A rather different, but not totally dissimilar, picture emerged from poorly performing Housing Benefit Offices where a successful turn round programme was in progress. Here staff looked for “trail-blazer” qualities that championed high performance and confronted under performance in their definition of a good manager. They valued vision, courage and emphasis on staff training and team work.