Many believe the economic recovery will lead to large numbers of employees seeking to move companies, looking for better salaries and working conditions. Martin Reed, CEO and chairman of psychometric people management tool provider Thomas International, told HR magazine managers will have to take employee engagement a lot more seriously to avoid significant attrition.
“Managers are often weak when it comes to engaging with their staff; they tend to get distracted by other things” he said. “Both employees and managers are reluctant to have difficult conversations about issues in the workplace. Frequent and effective one-to-ones, as well as frank and open conversations about problems in the workplace are crucial,” he said.
“This is a massive issue. It would be naïve of any people managers not to realise that,” he said. Reed also claimed increasing work pressures due to the recession will need to be managed during the recovery. The recent article (full version can be found here).
In a different article (Personnel today) it is stated ‘Few HR professionals would disagree that encouraging line managers to spend more time talking face to face with their staff, or even just over the phone, is key to a successful employee engagement strategy. In reality, however, despite good intentions, many organisations struggle to achieve this goal.’ As the economy recovers it is going to be vital that management are having those conversations with their teams. The article includes the following 5 ideas to encourage manager employee conversations.
- Conversation is about establishing a trusting relationship – this is the cornerstone for all that follows, as trust is both the fuel for and the output of the conversations. It requires a positive intent and for the manager to ask with integrity something such as: “What would you like to know about me that would help us work better together?”
- Second, managers must have a conversation that agrees mutual expectations, based on mutual understanding and dependency. The manager raises the conversation by focusing on mutual aspirations – for example, by saying: “Tell me about what you are seeking to achieve and why, and what expectations you have of me in helping you to achieve it.”
- Third is a conversation about showing genuine appreciation and using the art of appreciative inquiry in order to understand and build on strengths. This is an area that is often neglected at work in favour of a focus on deficiencies. Yet it boosts awareness and confidence as well as nourishing the relationship.
- The fourth conversation is to do with challenging unhelpful behaviour. I find that “non-violent communication” principles can help managers to take ownership for the feedback. Negative behaviour will always need to be addressed, and by articulating the effect that behaviour has on us and our request for a change, we can reduce the “threat” felt by the other person and increase the likelihood of acceptance.
- Finally, there should be a conversation about building for the future. Often headhunters know more about employees than their managers. So a conversation about where the employee wants to be in one to two years in the future is crucial in being able to identify how a manager can meet the employee’s needs while keeping valuable talent in the organisation.
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