It’s a cliché because it’s true: Communication between leadership and employees is critical to the success of any organization. Unfortunately, research demonstrates that employees believe communication is a major problem, while managers see things differently.
One of the key findings in TINYpulse’s 2017 Employee Engagement Report shows a startling rift between employees’ and managers’ perspectives. Only 25% of employees believe management is very transparent and 26% see adequate opportunities for growth. For managers, those numbers are nearly doubled, with 42% believing they provide very high transparency and 50% reporting they provide adequate growth opportunities.
Organizations cannot afford to ignore critical areas like transparency and growth. Both are linked to higher employee satisfaction and productivity. And just believing you’re doing a good job isn’t enough.
What Employees Think
Our research revealed that employees believe managers neglect to discuss professional development and promotions. Instead, they tend to pay attention only to day-to-day concerns over long-term career growth.
Telling employees to “carry on” with what they’re doing might appear to be positive — this does mean they’re doing a good job after all. The problem is this approach doesn’t provide employees with any direction or opportunity for growth. It doesn’t recognize employee potential, create a pipeline for leadership, or encourage a culture of learning. It’s a strategy only focused on temporary results.
Reasons for the Rift
Managers may think it’s enough to communicate a policy or strategy once with employees. The reality is that it takes repetition for a point to set in.
By communicating the same content across different platforms, you can show employees what your priorities are and get everyone in the organization on the same page. It’s easy to focus on short-term tasks and projects but more difficult to give the big picture, long-term goals the attention they deserve. Successful leaders focus on both.
One tool companies are using is “ask anything” meetings with the entire staff. This is a simple, free tool that drives transparency and engagement.
One UK company we worked with saw across-the-board positive outcomes from just a single meeting in which leadership responded to dozens of questions from employees. The topics were wide-ranging on everything from strategy to finance to compensation.
Following the meeting, employees reported higher than average scores on key indicators — like the likelihood of recommending the workplace to friends and the likelihood of staying with the company for another year. These kinds of meetings demonstrate to employees that the company is committed to transparency.
On professional growth, managers can prioritize goals for each individual employee. An ideal time to do this is during performance reviews. As a result, your talented employees will understand that the organization values their work and wants them to move up the ladder.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that you’ve already solved transparency and do professional development the right way. Both take consistent work and adjustments to get right.
The data show that there’s a gap between the way employees and their bosses view transparency. So sharpen your communication skills and make sure everyone’s on the same page. That’s the ticket to a happier and more productive workforce.
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