New research from Interact/Harris offers a cautionary tale on the risks to companies from a breakdown in communications between bosses and their employees, according to an analysis by the Harvard Business Review. Success is often contingent on efficient execution from well-directed teams. But when communication breaks down, all bets are off.
See where employees say managers drop the ball…
This new study was conducted online with about 1,000 workers across the U.S. An astonishing 91% of respondents say communications issues are a challenge for managers and can bring them down.
Organizational communications have always been an issue for companies. And the larger the company, the bigger the challenge in creating effective and efficient communications systems within the organization. But even in small- to mid-size companies, managers can struggle with multiple moving pieces heading in different directions at different paces, and often, all too easily slipping out of synch.
Not only are markets and competition constantly changing, but the needs of workers are changing as well. And now with the growth in your staff of the millennials segment, who are now the largest share of working Americans, you have a larger issue – millennials crave communication and meaning in their careers.
So what are the top knocks that employees have about how well their bosses are handling their job of directing and communicating with their teams? (% of respondents)
The Top 5 Complaints Employees have about Bosses:
- Not recognizing employee achievements (63%)
- Not giving clear instructions (57%)
- Not having time to meet with employees (52%)
- Refusing to talk to subordinates (51%)
- Taking credit for others’ ideas (47%)
Beyond these, there was a whole roster of additional complaints about superiors including micromanaging, bullying, narcissism, indecisiveness, and more. But when focusing on effectiveness, the top 5 issues were all communications based.
HBR also suggested that managers, even those who may possess a high intelligence quotient (IQ), appear to be seriously deficient in emotional intelligence (EQ). Managers need to create a sense of connectedness and mutual purpose in order to inspire teams to higher performance. An excessive focus on performance at all costs, with no consideration to the experience for employees, can create a deteriorating situation at the company.
HBR offered 7 suggestions for managers – and perhaps you – to follow with employees:
- Express appreciation, specifically – And we mean genuine, insightful appreciation, not just an “atta-boy” or “atta-girl” with maybe an accompanying high-five. Identify something specific about their actions that you noticed contributed to a positive outcome.
- Take opportunity to thank you staff publicly and privately – Sort of a corollary of the above point, but the issue here is to remember to thank team members when opportunities present themselves – getting coffee in the break room, passing in the hallway, arriving in the parking lot in the morning…whenever.
- What do you think? – Managers often feel it’s their job to spit out a solution to every problem. T0 be sure, they likely bear the responsibility for problems being solved – but employees want to feel useful and…heard. So ask them, “What do you think?” And by the way, we’d add that you empower them to implement their suggestion…even if its not the approach you would have taken.
- Here’s what’s happening and what you can expect – In companies with poor communication, employees often spend a lot of time talking and speculating about, “what’s going on” at the company. This is human nature…but it’s also a real productivity killer. Many managers are often uncomfortable about sharing internal news – especially if it’s not particular positive. HBR says employees are able to deal with the “whys” of a situation if it is explained in honest and trustworthy manner. If employees feel they can trust their superior to let them know what’s going on and why, they’ll devote their energies to their duties instead of gossiping.
- I have some feedback for you – We don’t mean the traditional (and often dreaded) annual performance review…we mean continual feedback. Most employees seek guidance and performance feedback. When managers provide feedback on a consistent and ongoing basis, the team feels that all are working together to be successful – instead of feeling as though their manager is secretly building a case for a yearly game of “got-ya!”
- Let me tell you about something I learned the hard way – Laughing at your own screw-ups makes you more human, and more trustworthy. It also demonstrates that you are secure in your abilities. Share war stories with your staff and build up more trust.
- Hello Susan – You know that your customers LOVE to hear you use their name. Well, guess what? You’re employees do as well.
See the entire article at HBR.org…