People Management: Employees Are Saying This About Our Managers

Steve Wyrostek
April 2, 2008 — 3,049 views  
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Part of our business is to facilitate employee feedback forums. In these sessions, we have neutral sessions with employee groups about a variety of topics. Then we provide that information to management so they can have direction on actionable items to make meaningful changes in their company.

One of the areas usually covered is supervisory/management performance. Some of the areas probed are openness to employee input, recognition and performance feedback. Finally, sometimes memorable phrases will come up unsolicited in the sessions.

Openness to Employee Input- Comments I hear from employees regarding this center around the fact that they seldom get to have a voice on work processes or situations that impact them. Or if they are consulted, it’s after the decision has been made. It doesn’t seem to matter too much if their thoughts are incorporated, it just that they be allowed to voice them. For managers, I do believe this can be difficult to do because of the urgency of some changes. However, a little employee solicitation can not only increase employee satisfaction but be good for business since insight could be gained that’s helpful in implementation.

Recognition- I constantly hear employees state things like this: that they were on a project for three months and were never asked how they were doing, that it would be nice to hear a thank you once in awhile and it would be great to at least be acknowledged as they walk down the hall. It seems to me that there are many managers who completely ignore the fact that not only is recognition good business but it’s incredibly easy to do. And I don’t think non-recognition is intentional, necessarily. But I believe it stems from a simple lack of self awareness regarding the fact that employee recognition is an integral part of being a good manager. Many of us have to consciously develop techniques to remember to do this daily. It takes work but it’s worth it. Plus, it’s easy to do- a few sincere words, a gift certificate to Starbucks or a small cash bonus is all it takes.

Performance Feedback- When I hear feedback on this topic, sometimes it’s that the employees feel that the reviews are too subjective, meaning that there’s too much opinion and not enough fact in them. While I think some subjectivity is acceptable, good metrics to measure performance need to be in place to write a performance review that has integrity. Employees take reviews to heart. I’ve heard quotes from reviews an employee received two years ago and I’ve received prior performance reviews in interviews from potential hires. So write them like emails- assume everyone will read them.

Words- Lest you think words are written on the water, consider these direct quotes attributed to management and directed at employees (often in team meetings) that I’ve heard in feedback sessions; “Too bad, suck it up and deal with it”, “If you don’t like it, leave”, “If you don’t want to change, go to another department”, or “We don’t owe you anything”. I’d call phrases like this lazy language, representative of managers who don’t want to take the time to deliver thoughtful messages on situations that are important to employees.

I’ll even acknowledge the fact that these sentiments may actually be present in some cases, but I don’t feel they can be verbalized this way to employees. These words are hurtful, dismissive, flippant and unfair. They cause employee resentment that lingers long after the words have faded. Those bad feelings create unhappy employees which result in a decrease in employee commitment, discretionary effort and work output. Plus, it’s just not right. For these reasons, if a manager feels these words floating to the tip of their tongue- bite that tongue.

In order to improve on managerial performance in these areas some self awareness may be needed. The managerial awareness level can be raised with many of the fine management training programs available or perhaps by partnering with an experienced mentor or coach.

When management is able to make meaningful connections with their employees, it’s truly a beautiful thing. If the employees aren’t roiling over poor management, their comments in feedback sessions are free of stress, full of commitment to perform their job well and brimming with true job satisfaction. This can do nothing but create great results for the company and the employee. And that’s what it’s all about!

Steve Wyrostek MBA, BA
President- Gentle Ears, Inc.
541 N. 5th Ave.
Des Plaines, IL  60016
[email protected]

Member HRMAC, SHRM, ASTD, Association Forum of Chicago Regular Contributor to the Business Ledger

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Steve Wyrostek