What's the Biggest Problem at Work? No One Communicates

Keeping employees in the dark is the most common management mistake, according to a new poll.

A survey by staffing firm Accountemps shows that 41 percent of chief financial officers believe a lack of communication between staff and management is the most frequent misstep companies make in managing their employees.

Not enough recognition and praise is the second most common error, the study found.

"Employees want to be kept in the loop and feel appreciated," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps. "An organization can only be successful if its employees have the information and support they need to do their jobs well and a forum for two-way communication."

Accountemps highlights five things bosses should say to their employees on a regular basis:

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  • "Here's what's happening." Update employees on the company's financial performance, department initiatives or group projects. Keep staff abreast of organizational information that affects them and their responsibilities. Keeping people in the dark will lead to tension and rumors.
  • "Do you have what you need?" Take the time to find out if team members have the right resources to work effectively.
  • "Thank you." Call attention to successes by highlighting staff members who go above and beyond in meetings and copying relevant managers on emailsrecognizing those who helped.
  • "What challenges are you facing? "Proactively ask staff members what's going on and how you may be able to help, since employees are often hesitant to voice concerns when problems arise.
  • "How can we improve the company? "Invite staff members to suggest things they can do to help achieve business objectives. It's pleasant to discover how innovative and resourceful employees can be.

The poll was based on surveys of 1,400 CFOs from a sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance business and technology writer who has worked in public relations and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter. You can reach him at chadgbrooks@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.