5 Fears Employees Wish They Could Tell Their Boss

Thank You

Right or wrong, most employees are afraid of what their boss might think or say or if they told them half of what they’re thinking.

This stems partly from the consequences a boss can wield if employees step too far out of line, but it also comes from a common personality difference between bosses and front line employees.

In a typical workplace, what is rewarded is getting things done and doing things right.

Task vs. People Orientation 

Notice those are both task-oriented motivations.

They are also the primary motivators for those most often promoted into leadership.

No matter the personality preference tool used and their corresponding labels, studies show that the reds, Drivers, Choleric, or Commanders are the ones who get the management jobs because their natural tendencies are what is valued in those positions.

What’s then left to populate the front line are those who may not want a management position, those who are aren’t motivated by getting all the tasks done or right and those who are motivated to meet the needs of people.

The difference in motivation and communication alone sets up Human Resource Professionals with job security for life. But it also creates fear when the typically people oriented employee wants to feel valued and appreciated and doesn’t know how to communicate that with their boss who just wants work done now and accurately.

I wonder if this also rings true for your office?

5 Things Leaders Need to Hear

Here are five things those employees wish they could tell you or ask, but are afraid of how you might respond.

1) When I work extra hours or do a great job, why don’t you notice?

Task oriented leaders often intrinsically motivated by their own accomplishments regularly forget to notice the efforts of others that lead up to task completion.

The desired outcome is completion and they consider the work you did to get it done to be just part of the job.

Leaders would be well served to recognize the efforts and remember that just because they don’t need to praise for their extra steps, others may find this very motivating.

You said business is business, but you’re yelling at me.

Only a small percentage of people are able to separate business from personal if the conversation sounds like an attack on one’s personhood.

Those task-oriented leaders often promoted very often come from this small population.

Just because you can split out business issues from who that person is, remember it is a person you’re talking to, coaching, or terminating and a little empathy can go a long way.

You were mad at me five minutes ago and now you’re asking me about my family. I don’t get it.

That same empathy just mentioned, works well if done in the right order. Highly driven leaders motivated to “get it done” also move on quickly and love the word next. Those you lead may hear your words long after they’ve left your mind.

Establish rapport first and watch your temper as the time it takes you to reestablish the trust you break when you yell will slow down how quickly the project will get completed.

How can one spend too MUCH time helping a customer?

The customers provide the reason for most leaders’ jobs, but that task orientation may mislead you into thinking that as long as you do what the customer needs, building the relationship with them is not important.

People-oriented employees are gifted at building relationships.

Give them the time to do and remember that the deeper a relationship, the more forgiving the customer will be when your sense of urgency results in a mistake or missed opportunity.

I like you, but when you’re stressed, you scare me.

Leaders who are focused on getting a great deal done or under a significant amount of stress, self-induced or externally driven, can appear manic when they’re mad.

The behaviors can range from overly dominant to controlling to belligerent and though these behaviors are this personality preferences way of mitigating stress, they differ vastly from what other preferences do to adhesive the same outcome.

Develop your coping skills for stress and watch the amount of pressure you put on yourself.

While it’s not a requirement that all you lead like you as a person, it sure makes work more enjoyable, flow faster, and more attractive for future employees if you are consistently likeable instead of fun one minute and scary the next.

Not all leaders are intentionally scary and not all employees are afraid to talk with their boss, but the inherent risk that you might be ‘scarier’ than you think, exists.

Take the time to really listen to employees and learn what they need from you.

Leadership, after all, is a two way relationship and doesn’t work well long term if you’re always scaring the pants off of those you lead or are always focused on what you need in order to get stuff done, without looking at what those who do it need from you.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Monica Wofford 
is CEO of Contagious Companies, Inc.
She serves her clients by getting business results and ROI for training functions
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2 responses to “5 Fears Employees Wish They Could Tell Their Boss

  1. Great advice! Our research also shows there are a good many Drivers in management. What I would add is if you are trying to influence a Driver boss, get right to the point and show how what you want them to do is a win for them. And if you are a Driver, remember you also have access to 3 other patterns of personality that you can situationally apply (Organizer, Collaborator, Visionary). To paraphrase the old saying: if all you can do is act like a hammer, everything will look like a nail. And it’s not.


    • Hello Ginnywhitelaw! Great insights and when we work with leaders using the CORE Profile, we utilize the terms Commander, Organizer, Relater, and Entertainer. I’m sure the relevancy coefficient between the preference labels you describe and those we use, is high. And you’re so right, we all have access to ALL four of them and it’s unfair when someone says “You are a… ” to the exclusion of the other three. Much as you said about the hammer…if all you do is act like a driver, everyone else will look that way and those that aren’t will appear difficult, when they’re actually merely different. 🙂


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