- Good communication is essential in the workplace.
- Respect goes a long way among employees.
- Employees look for certain characteristics in their employers.
Are you the type of boss who commends your employees for their contributions, meets with them one on one and takes an active interest in their lives? If not, you might not be doing enough to foster a productive and well-connected work environment, previous research shows.
According to a previous Harris Poll that asked employees about the top communication issues that keep bosses from being effective leaders, 63% of respondents said the failure to properly recognize employees for their achievements was their top complaint.
Other answers suggested that workers feel underappreciated and alienated by the way their superiors interact with them. More than half of respondents said their biggest complaint was that their bosses didn't have time to meet with them in person, while a similar percentage said their bosses refused to speak to them at all.
For more than one-third of respondents, the top grievance was that their superiors didn't know their names, and slightly less than one-quarter of respondents said they wished their bosses would ask about their lives outside of work.
Making an effort to improve the way you communicate with your employees not only strengthens interpersonal relations and office morale but can also boost productivity and help the bottom line, according to Lou Solomon, CEO and founder of communications consultancy Interact.
The most effective leaders are those who are proactive about building a connected workplace where employees feel heard and appreciated, Solomon said.
Here are six things you should say to employees to increase connectivity and employee recognition, according to Solomon:
- "Here's what I appreciate about you and your contribution." The basic "atta boy" or "atta girl" doesn't satisfy people who put their heart and soul into their work. Instead, say something specific, like, "I appreciate the way you pull in people from other departments to reach your team goals – you're a connector." Leaders need to notice employees' unique, specific contributions.
- "Thank you" (personal and public). From the elevator to the parking lot, daily interactions represent opportunities for leaders to engage in dynamic interactions and show appreciation for their employees' efforts. Public recognition at a staff meeting or a thoughtful "thank you" in a newsletter can also be meaningful.
- "What do you think?" Employees often withhold their best ideas from leaders who always have the "right" answer or who take credit for others' ideas. Ask questions like these: "What have you noticed?" "How do you think we could improve?" "What is keeping us stuck?" "What do you love about it?" Establish a safe environment in which people have the opportunity to express themselves and be recognized for their ideas, and they will take ownership of the results.
- "Here's what's happening and what you can expect." Often, companies change so quickly that information is withheld until the last minute. This is a huge distraction for employees, who need "real speak" about their futures. Leaders often underestimate employees' abilities to accept the "why" if it is shared in an honest way. Leaders will gain deep respect when they share as much as they know as soon as they can share it. Explanations are better than no explanations.
- "I have some feedback for you." Don't wait for a performance review to tell people how they're doing. A culture of continual feedback is healthy and nimble.
- "Let me share a time I got it wrong." Smart, capable leaders who know their stuff are well respected, but employees like and trust leaders who not only are smart but can occasionally lean back and laugh at their own mistakes, and who are honest about the lessons life has taught them. The effective leader says, "Let me tell you about something I learned the hard way," instead of dictating the course to take.
How can a manager support their employees?
It is critical that employees receive support in order for them to do their job properly. However, support isn't limited to work-related aspects of the job, but includes things such as recognition and morale as well. These are some ways an employer can support their employees:
- Training: Proper training is vital when employees start a job, but ongoing training is equally important. The training must be consistent for all employees, and answers should not vary from one employee to another, because it can lead to confusion and other problems. In the long run, proper training is what makes good, quality employees.
- Positive work environment: It is essential that you provide a positive work environment. If your employees dread the thought of going to work, they aren't going to perform at their best and may feel resentment about being there. A positive work environment is made possible through respect, kindness and a good attitude.
- Motivation: As an employer, it's important to know what motivates your employees and use this knowledge to build stronger relationships. There are different things that can motivate people, so it's important to learn what motivates each individual employee whenever possible and incorporate your findings into your leadership strategy. Consider creating a suggestion box so employees can share their thoughts freely.
- Recognize and reward: Employees must be acknowledged and rewarded for their good work. Although financial bonuses are good, they may not always be an option, so think outside of the box. For instance, you can have a plaque for the employee of the month that is presented to the recipient and then displayed on a wall. Employers are often quick to address wrongdoings and less apt to acknowledge good work. Providing praise will encourage employees to strive to continue doing their best.
Qualities employees look for in a boss
Just as an employer looks for certain qualities in their employees, employees also look for certain qualities in a boss. Working for a good employer is a highly motivating experience. It will make employees work harder and give their best effort while enjoying their time on the job.
These are some of the qualities of a good boss:
- They have a clear vision. In order to lead their team, a good boss needs to have a clear vision of exactly what they want to achieve and the direction in which their team should go.
- They execute on their vision. A good employer easily communicated their specific vision to their employees, which will help employees focus and work more efficiently.
- They are supportive. No employee wants to work with someone that is difficult or uncaring. A good employer is one that is helpful, compassionate and kind.
- They make decisions. A good employer is decisive; they do not drag out their decision-making.
- They share credit. One of the most disrespectful things an employer can do is to take all of the credit for a job well done. A good employer will acknowledge the employees who contributed to the work.