Fielding Graduate University News

Fielding alumnus Dr. Eli Sopow publishes in peer-reviewed book "Leading in Complex Worlds"

Posted by Hilary Edwards on Wed, Oct 10, 2012

Sopow Barbour Complex Worlds final cover web resized 600

Employees value fairness over experience

University of Canada management professor Dr. Eli Sopow published in the peer-reviewed book Leading in Complex Worlds by the International Leadership Association published by Jossey-Bass.

As reported from the University Canada West: A new study shows that in today’s rapidly changing world, employees want a boss who’s fair and has great communication skills much more than someone with a lot of experience. The results can have a direct impact on corporate hiring and promotion practices.

Sopow asked 620 employees in a large Canadian organization how important 21 different workplace behaviors were to them and how good a job was being done on each. A statistical analysis of the data then compared the results to how the employees rated their immediate supervisor.

At the top of the list of what’s important to employees is a boss who treats all employees fairly, has good communication skills, is trustworthy, is ethical, sets clear expectations, and holds all employees quickly accountable for actions. At the bottom of the importance list is a boss who has a long work history.

Sopow says that while having a boss with a long work history and experience is still important to employees, it is nowhere near as important as fairness, communication skills, trust and ethical behavior. For example, while 93 percent of employees agreed fair treatment is very important to them and 80 percent agreed having a boss with great communication skills is very important, only 33 percent agreed having an immediate boss with a long history of experience was very important.

“This study scientifically confirms what a lot of especially younger employees see everyday. They see managers and supervisors who’ve been around for sometimes 30 years but they haven’t advanced their skill sets or attitudes. Employees want leaders who are great communicators, who they can trust, who listen well, and who are adaptive to rapidly changing times,” said Sopow.

Sopow’s study also showed through statistical modeling which workplace factors were most strongly correlated to the top skills of fairness, being trustworthy, and being a good communicator.

The results show treating others fairly has a strong correlation to being willing to admit and correct mistakes, being trustworthy, making your expectations very clear, being a good communicator, and providing employees with positive recognition when a job is well done.

Sopow ('02) holds a doctorate in Human and Organization Systems from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California.

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Dr. Eli Sopow

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Tags: organizational change, learning