What Do Workers Want? Better communication with their leader for starters

Business InterviewEarlier this month, I noticed that a few of my Facebook friends were posting a link to a Wall Street Journal post titled What Do Workers Want from the Boss?

The article describes the results of a Gallup study showing that employees want communication, a trusting relationship, and clear measurement standards from their immediate supervisor.

I messaged some of my friends to learn why they posted the article. They all replied that the findings matched their own experience and they wanted to share. In fact, each of them told me about how a negative experience in one of these areas had resulted in their search for a new place to work.

That’s pretty sad.

The findings identified in the Gallup study are consistent with those uncovered through research by The Ken Blanchard Companies on the subject of Employee Work Passion. We frame these elements as Connectedness with Leader, Feedback, and Performance Expectations. Blanchard research shows that when there are significant gaps between what employees expect and what they actually experience at work in these areas (as well as nine others), their intentions to stay with the organization, perform at a high level, apply extra discretionary effort, be a good organizational citizen, or endorse the company to others are lowered.

That’s even sadder!

Here’s the good news. Leaders can help create the type of environment people are looking for at work. One strategy we recommend for all leaders is to increase the frequency and quality of their conversations with their direct reports.

A good way to start is by scheduling a special type of one-on-one meeting in addition to performance review meetings.  In this meeting, the direct report is responsible for setting the agenda and capturing the required action steps. The manager’s job is to simply show up and listen.

This kind of meeting helps in many ways. The leader shows an interest and commitment to the employee’s success by listening to what is working well and providing feedback in areas where the employee needs help. And by taking the time to clarify performance expectations, the leader demonstrates to the employee that not only is their work important, it also plays a valuable role in achieving overall organization objectives.

What can you do to create connection, provide better feedback, and set clearer performance expectations with your people? As my Facebook friends point out, we all could benefit from better communication with our leaders.

For more ideas, be sure to read the Blanchard white papers, Ten Performance Management Process Gaps, Are Employees’ Needs Being Met by One-on-Ones?, and Employee Work Passion: Connecting the Dots. They are all available, free of charge, from the Blanchard research archives.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.

5 thoughts on “What Do Workers Want? Better communication with their leader for starters

  1. I’m not so sure a formal sit-down meeting is needed. How about forming a report with subordinates so that conversation is not superficial but rather meaningful?

    • Hi Todd–I’d say we are in agreement! A commitment to increased frequency and quality of communications would be meaningful for sure. And the commitment need not be “formal,” what matters is it is frequent and lead by the direct report. Thanks.

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