What Your Employees Will Never Tell You But That You Desperately Need To Know

We like to think that we work in open business cultures where you can provide accurate, honest feedback to anyone on your team, and they’ll do the same for you in return. But that’s rarely how it works in practice. It just doesn’t pay for people to reveal their real thoughts about you. It’s often an emotionally painful experience, and no matter how much it’s dressed up in corporate jargon, it’s still one person criticizing another. 

A similar thing happens in friendships. Your friends don’t have much of an incentive to sit you down and explain to you all the things that are bad about you. Friends retain an emotional distance, which makes all your bad behavior or annoying habits tolerable. They’ll hang around with you for the benefits that it brings them, but they won’t dissect your character or help you tame your demons. 

People in the workplace are less likely to reveal things about themselves or you in the name of personal development or honesty. It doesn’t often pay to be honest in hierarchical structures, especially if your job is on the line. 

If you run a company, therefore, there are all kinds of things that remain unspoken. Here’s a sample. 

You Can’t Fool Them

Employees tend to have a naturally distrustful attitude towards management. Managers, as they see it, are in control of the information about the success of the company and will use it in whatever way they can to give themselves an advantage if everything goes wrong. Employees will often take tidbits of information from random hearsay and then use them to construct a picture of what they think is going on at senior management level. More often than not, they’re wrong. But that doesn’t mean that damage isn’t being done. People with perfectly safe jobs may come to believe that they’re ready for the job and proactively seek work elsewhere. 

The only way to get around this problem is to be as transparent as possible. Publish company earnings, keep employees in the loop for organizational change and, in general, do what you say you’ll do. 

Most Employees Have A Shady Background

The occasional squeaky clean person will join your organization: somebody whose legal standing is beyond reproach. But most of your employees will have some issues in their history. You can, however, hire a professional company like Checkr.com to perform background checks on anyone you hire.  

It’s always worth checking up on employee backgrounds. Most will have some kind of mark against their name, even if it’s something as minor a parking fine. Many employees will not volunteer information, especially if it reflects poorly on their character. 

Most Employees Want A Relationship With You

Not a romantic relationship, but one that goes above and beyond simple direction and obedience. A manager is there to orchestrate productive activities – most employees understand that. But a manager is also there to build meaningful relationships that employees will learn to value and cherish. 

The problem for most leaders is that they often do not recognize their psychological importance to their underlings. Managers frequently see what they do from a high level, functional perspective, not a human one. There’s a sense among the management community that their followers do not need them, except for their professional support. That’s nonsense. Most people want to be followers and want to be able to approach you with their problems and issues. They need assistance. 

Most Employees Have A Good Idea For How To Solve Problems

Managers often like to swan into a situation and proclaim the best way to solve a problem. It gives them a sense of power and authority according to themuse.com. The problem, though, is that a lot of the time, the people working on the problem know best. While your strategy might seem perfectly reasonable in the context of what you know, you may be missing critical information that your employees have. 

What’s more, not listening to your employees can affect morale. It can feel self-defeating to have to work on a problem in one way (just because the manager says so) when you know that you can do it better in another. 

The biggest takeaway from this discussion is the fact that both managers and employees need excellent communication. Keeping things under wraps is not only bad for office cultures but businesses in general. People who feel like they can’t say what they think will feel disgruntled and may want to find work elsewhere. 

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