Never bother your boss with your ideas because you know he won’t bother listening to them? Or anyone else’s ideas? Well, that just might mean he’s insecure.
A study published in the Academy of Management Journal has found that insecure managers are less likely than more secure managers to listen and implement staff input. Researchers started with survey of forty-one managers and 148 staff at a multinational oil company. Managers who tended to disagree with statements like “I am confident that I can perform effectively on many different tasks” also tended to have staff less likely to speak out. Why? They said their managers probably wouldn’t listen.
Researchers followed up with an experiment where 131 participants read an imagined scenario where they manage an airline with a lot of customer complaints—Air Canada, we assume. The scenario had the participant at a meeting where they’d announce a plan to fix the problem, but a maintenance chief at the meeting interjects with an alternative plan. Researchers told some participants that they were performing well, but told others that people were questioning their competence. The participant had to say whether they’d go with the initial plan, or accept the maintenance chief’s plan.
Researchers found that those with low confidence—those who were told that people were questioning their competence—were more likely to ignore the maintenance chief’s suggestions.
So, if you have a boss who’s bad at taking advice, here’s a little more insight into what’s up. But if you are a boss who has a hard time listening to others, it’s probably time to ask why.