What is on the minds of your employees? What are they worried about?
Have you asked or are you afraid of what you might hear?
True leaders aren’t afraid of dealing with the concerns of their employees. They have a strong desire to know what is bothering their colleagues and engage them in ongoing conversations to clear up misconceptions.
But don’t wait for someone to come to you with their concerns. A study by Milliken & Morrison shows that 85% of employees feel unable to raise a problem with their bosses.
It is human nature to think about the future and seek information to help a person plan. When an employee can’t get straight answers, they will fill the vacuum with rumors. So when a leader chooses to stay silent during tough times, they are only inviting speculation. Neuroscience shows that even bad news is better than no news at all.
If you’ve not been open with your team, walking up to them one day and asking, “Hey, what’s bothering you?” probably won’t get you honest responses. You need to build your listening credibility and demonstrate that you are not only interested in their thoughts but intend to try to help them whenever possible.
Research shows that typical concerns include fears about job security, frustrations over the people they work with, and the assigned projects.
In most cases, a little transparency and more frequent communications will help alleviate many concerns.
In his book, “Out of The Crisis,” Dr. W. Edwards Deming shares that you create a more productive and stable workplace when you reduce employee fears. That is especially important for younger workers who seek a collaborative work environment. They desire to work for organizations where they feel a shared purpose.
Once you get an employee to open up, be sure that you don’t take whatever you’ve been told as a criticism of you (unless it is). Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen, authors of Thanks for the Feedback, write that our instinct is to shut down when people tell us something that we aren’t prepared to hear. If leaders do that, two-way communication will stop.
The investment of your time and your concern will pay dividends. Organizations that aren’t afraid of addressing their employees’ problems will see more productivity and less turnover.
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