You’ve got a lot to accomplish everyday. There’s constant pressure to meet deadlines. And on top of everything you’re supposed to remember to communicate with your employees on a regular basis. Did you know that if you feel that “just communicating in general” is the hardest part of talking to your employees, you are not alone.
According to an article by Corinne Purtill (2018), “almost 70% of US managers are scared to talk to their employees.” So why do leaders shy away from interacting with their employees? What are some of the reasons?
1. You think it’s wasting your time.
You’ve got so much else to do. You really don’t see the immediate benefits of getting to know each and every one of your employees in regular one-on-ones. And that is going to take a chunk of time out of your work week. Some of your employees don’t seem all that interesting. You could be doing so many other things.
It’s important to know that leaders who regularly engage with/ interact with their employees have much more productive environments. The research has confirmed this. Think about it. Who are you going to work harder for – someone who regularly listens to you and genuinely cares about you or someone who barely knows you?
2. You falsely believe that your employee will come to you when he/she has a problem.
If you don’t have an active, ongoing relationship with each of your employees, how likely is it that the person will approach you if there is a problem? In fact, if you do chit chat with the person on a frequent basis, you may just be able to pick up any uncharacteristic changes in mood or behaviors. This may be the first clue that something isn’t right with your employee
If you have been doing ongoing rapport building with your employees, you’ll have the relationships with your workers and then in many cases, the employee will feel comfortable discussing a problem with you. Building rapport with others doesn’t always come naturally and you may have to learn the skills – linking, small talk, finding things in common.
3. It’s uncomfortable.
Giving effective feedback, especially negative feedback evokes uncomfortable feelings in you.
How do you give negative feedback without hurting someone’s feelings? If the employee becomes defensive or argumentative what do you do to de-escalate the conversation. You don’t want to damage the relationship. There are definitely specific processes to help you learn how to do this. Things like preparing in advance, setting up a private meeting, being very specific, and solution-oriented.
The key here is that again, this is not an intuitive process for most leaders. You need to learn the ways to do this. Did you know that people thrive when they get feedback – whether positive or negative?
The bottom line here is that it is important for you to consciously take stock of whether any of these thoughts or feelings are interfering with you taking active steps to engage your employees. Happier, more engaged and productive workers will turn you into an outstanding leader.
Try this to improve
During the following week, approach two employees with whom you haven’t really talked much and ask them “What did you do this past weekend?”