No news is good news. That is what people who despise conflict say. That saying is not welcomed on a team that is striving to achieve greatness. Saying no news is good news is just like saying Bloody Mary 3 times in the mirror at night when you are home alone.
No news is good news is scary because of what your employees aren’t saying. These are the 10 things you need to encourage your employees to tell you:
1. I’m looking for a new job
Why it’s important: Primarily succession planning but also if their skill-set or organizational knowledge is hard to replace. They are involved in or leading too many critical initiatives. Knowing ahead of time will allow you to address the things that are causing dissatisfaction as well as to offer more in terms of compensation, work-life balance or a role change.
What to do about it: This one is tricky. It takes an incredible amount of trust for someone to tell you they are looking for another job. Work hard to gain your employees trust. Provide frequent reminders of how hard you would fight to keep them should they decide to leave. Help them feel valued and give them work that fulfills their needs.
2. My plate is empty and I need more to do
Why it’s important: Preventing boredom, keeping them challenged, productive and engaged. Despite what you may think people do want to be busy at work, learn new things and find success in challenging situations.
What to do about it: Delegate more down. Start training potential future leaders’ different aspects of your job. Sign them up for special projects or committees. You can also have them look for outside trainings, workshops or seminars that will give them new ideas to bring back and implement.
3. You are a great leader but you need to stop doing X
Why it’s important: We all have weaknesses and blind spots that cripple us from finding success. Who better to point these out then those who are most directly impacted by your deficiencies? Your employees have firsthand observations of your weaknesses and know what could be improved if you recognized them.
What to do about it: Ask for feedback but keep defensiveness out of your responses. This will encourage your employees to help you become more aware of your areas of opportunity. Find as many opportunities throughout the day to ask for feedback as you can.
4. That’s because I am not one of your favorites
Why it’s important: Perception is your enemy here. If you are friends with some employees and not others it will spill over and that perception will damage your relationships with the rest of the team.
What to do about it: Treat everyone fairly and with the utmost respect. The word fair is used over equal because people aren’t equal. They are all at different stages of their professional career and journey.
5. We look forward to the days you aren’t in the office
Why it’s important: If your presence in the office is rigid and stern you aren’t creating an environment of fun. There should be a healthy balance of fun and focus and the removal of tension. It doesn’t have to be a party full of slackers but that is what you will get when you are gone if you don’t make your workplace fun when you are there.
What to do about it: Engage your staff in idle chit chat. Say good morning to everyone when you arrive and always arrive with a smile. If you can’t smile when you walk in, stay in your car and play a happy song before you walk in. Break out in a song and tell more people thank-you (not thanks) more often.
6. You don’t know what I do here and you seem to not care
Why it’s important: People need to know that you see what they do and that you value their output. They want to feel appreciated and to know that you fully understand and empathize with the challenges that have been rolled down by you in doing their work well.
What to do about it: Sit with them as they work or have a tag-a-long day. You would be surprised at what you learn. I recently was talking to a peer whose management team was slim so she was filling in. She started venting about a few things that they deal with daily. My response to her was well now you know what they go through. She admittedly forgot how rough it was. On occasion I will do some of the mundane but essential tasks for my team. This helps me stay informed on the processes as well as to empathize with the difficulty of completing them.
7. So and so is getting away with a lot and you don’t even see it
Why it’s important: Employees don’t like to snitch on their peers and you should never put them in that position. When the rewards and consequences are the same no matter what your employees do they have no motivation to do well.
What to do about it: Be astute enough to know who is pulling their weight and who isn’t. Address those individuals immediately.
8. Are you not listening to what I am saying
Why it’s important: Your employees deserve your undivided attention. They deserve your respect.
What to do about it: When an employee comes to you give them your undivided attention. Make eye contact, stop what you are doing and fully engage in the interaction. If you are unable to do so let them know how important it is that you give them your full attention and schedule a meeting for later that same day.
9. You really aren’t funny
Why it’s important: Most employees will always laugh at your jokes I think we are born with a gene that forces us to laugh even when it isn’t funny. There are also times when a joke goes too far or past it’s life cycle.
What to do about it: Get over yourself. If you were meant to be a comedian you wouldn’t be leading a team of business professionals. Don’t start taking yourself too seriously though.
10. I can’t stand you
Why it’s important: I’ve not met a manager who didn’t want to be liked. Being liked shouldn’t be your goal, if it is you are doing it wrong. When your leadership becomes a popularity contest everyone under you loses.
What to do about it: Strive to be respected over being liked. Be respected for the work you do, the way you treat your staff, the coaching and mentoring you provide and the results you deliver.
Gaining your employees trust and respect enough for them to tell you any of these 10 things will be a huge advantage for your growth. There is nothing wrong with point blank asking them these questions as long as it is done in a non-threatening manner and you remain non-defensive. Start with the ones that are less likely to intimidate your employees and over time branch out from there.
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