4 Ways You're Screwing Up With Your Employees (and how to fix it, pronto)

The number one reason people leave jobs, according to employee polls conducted by the Gallup Organization, is a lack of appreciation at work.   While this is a well-know fact in the business community, we still fall short in this category more often than not.  Why do you suppose this is?

During a management training seminar years ago, our speaker asked us to write down every area in which our bosses fell short.  Pens were flying, as this was an easy assignment for us underappreciated souls in middle management.  Here is a list of some of my grievances:

  • Doesn’t appreciate the work I do
  • Doesn’t listen to my ideas or input
  • Overlooks my extra contributions to the team
  • Passes over me for important assignments
  • Hasn’t told me good job in months, years
  • Never calls me unless there is a complaint

You get the idea.  Possibly you have a few of these gripes yourself.  As I sit there smugly with my mile-long list, the speaker clears his throat, asks us to review the list and ask, “Do my subordinates say the same things about me?”  Ouch.  Yes, most likely.

Here’s the thing.  We may casually throw out a good job here or there, but it’s just not enough.  So, what is a busy leader to do?  Here are a few things most humans need and want.  It’s a good bet, your humans are no different.

1)     Value their opinions and ideas.  You don’t have to implement or agree with every idea an employee has.  But it’s a great practice to ask their opinion and actually listen.  You may be surprised at the great insight you’ll gain if you’re open to a new perspective.

2)     Appreciate their contributions.  If you think something nice, say it!  Most of the time, I find myself thinking how much I appreciate something, but I don’t actually say it.  Find something to complement each team member for.  Be genuine.  Don’t blow smoke.  But find something you truly value about their contribution to the team. 

Additionally, if they have another supervisor, be sure to voice your praise out loud or via email to anyone in their chain of command.  A lot of times, they never hear from anyone else but you, so they often wonder if anyone even knows they exist.  Don’t keep them guessing.  Let them know.  Don’t be afraid to tell them you couldn’t do this job without them. 

3)     Listen to their dreams and motivations.  When was the last time you checked in and asked them what they’re working towards?  I had a boss once ask me what I wanted.  I told him I’d like to advance up the career path to eventually run the company.  He let me know that he would help me and look out for opportunities to grow in the skills I would need.  He checked in with me often with things to fulfill that desire even though I knew I’d be waiting for that position for years.  I didn’t get discouraged because he would check in with me and let me know he hadn’t forgotten me. 

4)     Make them feel part of the team.  As much as possible, inform your team with appropriate amounts of information about the business. When they understand the company’s goals, how they can affect those goals, and what’s in it for them when we all succeed, you will have everyone rowing in the same direction.  If something will affect their department or work group, ask their opinion on how they would handle this opportunity or problem.  If they’re heard and included, the buy-in will increase just because they know you have their interests at heart.

What can you do today to be sure your team knows you appreciate them?  Pick one of these ideas that you may overlook, and try it out as soon as possible.  It’s the small things that increase job satisfaction.  This influences retention, and ultimately, the bottom line. Build this valuable connection with your team and you’ll all reap the rewards.