If your employees could change one thing about you, what do you think it would be?
TINYpulse, a software company that measures employee satisfaction, asked 1,000 full-time employees what they would change about their managers, and the top five answers explain why just 30% of Americans report being engaged at work.
It comes down to your interpersonal skills and communication, says Laura Troyani, marketing director for TINYpulse. “Studies show relationships drive employee engagement and get people excited about being at work,” she says. “Unfortunately, companies often promote individuals based on their project skills and not their management skills.”
This method of promotion doesn’t take into account how the person communicates, how they handle difficult situations, and how they motivate others. Making things worse, most organizations don’t offer training on these skills.
Instead of putting your organization at risk of losing your best people, take a look at the top five things employees wish their managers knew, as well as the steps you can take so your staff isn’t wishing these things about you.
Fifteen percent of employees wish their managers would improve their communication skills, with clarity and transparency being the most desired characteristics.
“Employees want to know what is expected of them, and they want someone to turn to for help and guidance,” says Troyani. “They want their leader to have the skills to be more direct and empowering rather than passive, aggressive, and emotional.”
To be a better communicator, managers should make time for weekly one-on-one check-ins with individual team members. “It’s a good opportunity to find out how projects are going, if goals are on track, and to get a gut check on how the employee feels about their job,” she says.
Senior leaders should also hold weekly or biweekly company-wide check-ins, suggests Troyani. “Give an update to the entire team on how the organization is performing as a whole,” she says. “Offer financial metrics and operational metrics. Don’t try to brush issues under the rug; you’re not fooling anyone.”
Eleven percent of employees wish their boss would quit or retire. While this could feel like a kick in the gut if it’s directed at you, it’s important for managers to determine why, says Troyani.
“Are you being open and honest with your team? Do you have an open-door policy?” she asks. “The truth might be ugly, but if you don’t get to the root cause, you’re going to have massive attrition on your hands.”
Companies should put a serious focus on hiring since colleagues and supervisors make or break a workplace, says Troyani. “A candidate’s cultural fit is just as important as the skills he or she will bring to the table,” she says. “Some supervisors are just so bad they are irredeemable, making their departure the top-two thing employees want to see from their boss.”
Ten percent of employees wish their boss would be more empathetic and have better people skills. Troyani says this doesn’t mean you have to be charismatic and outgoing to be a good manager; introverts can engage and lead teams as well.
“It comes back to being clear and transparent,” she says. “Be up front and willing to troubleshoot things.”
Eight percent of employees want raises. Unfortunately, managers’ hands are often tied when it comes to salary increases. If you can’t bump their pay, consider nonfinancial perks, such as flexible work hours, flex spending accounts, and fitness benefits.
“Often this isn’t about a financial benefit; it has to do with relationships,” says Troyani. “Perks can improve sentiment and show employees that you are invested in their well-being. You don’t always have to spend more money to get more out of your team.”
Seven percent wish their manager would become a better collaborator or team leader. When you manage a team, the expectations are that you’re the leader. This means collaborating on projects, scheduling regular meetings, and giving your team something to rally around, says Troyani.
“Your role is to make your employees be successful,” she says. “Be willing to take a self-assessment and course correct. You have a great deal of control over your employees’ desire to stick with you or run for the hills. Any ambitious manager will want to know how they can do better.”