Leaders and managers have come under sustained criticism recently, as reports amass showing that they are too focused on technical skills, under-educated in management theory and practice (compared to their counterparts around the world) and poor communicators.
At LeadingCompany, we strive to provide a practical approach to the challenges of management and so were delighted to see a recent survey of 3800 leaders, managers and employees revealing exactly what it is that staff want to hear from their leaders and how they want to have these messages communicated.
The survey is conducted by the training organisation, Leadership Management Australasia. It’s a “rolling survey” and results in a report three times a year.
The survey participants include 261 senior managers or business leaders, 443 middle managers or supervisors, and 3,127 non-managerial employees (more demographic details below).
Here’s are five things that your employees want to hear you say (and the full list of characteristics of a good manager):
1. Tell me clearly where our company is going, our goals and vision.
The survey notes that employees were feeling more optimistic about growth six months ago, but redundancies, falling production schedules and reduced overtime have changed their view.
LMA chairman, Grant Sexton, says: “Employees today are like customers have always been: they only go where they want to go, and they stay where they are appreciated. If we are not creating the right environment at work, they will slack off or go somewhere else.”
There is a potential for leaders and managers to create a sense of unity and common purpose, the report found, by garnering employee support for the recovery plan.
Leaders need to communicate regularly about the organisation’s future in a reassuring way. “What the manager needs to communicate is, hey, you are doing a great job and your job is secure, we have a great future in mind for you.”
If the uncertainty makes that difficult, leaders can provide clear future points when more details will be shared. “Employees will value the honesty that comes with knowing as much as they can about their future – they are after all people first, employees second,” the report says.
Sexton says explain the problems, and the short-term and long-term response and then ask,
“What part do you want to play and how can we support you?”
2. Give me honest feedback on how I am performing
Failing to pick up on poor performance is one of the big criticisms of Australian managers.