Good leaders are assertive. They take charge, cut through the clutter, and make key business decisions with authority. While there may be conflict from employees about what the best path forward might be, the only thing worse than making a bad decision is not making one at all, which can happen when you’re too intent on hearing all sides before making a decision. Here's how you can drive your talent management.
This doesn’t mean you should always ignore what your employees want, though; your employees’ opinions matter, whether they help you find bad apples, keep good ones or ultimately work to make you a better leader because good leaders also listen...
They Can Help You Find Bad Employees
Carl might be one of your favorite employees. He’s always on time, gets things done in the proper manner and goes through all the proper channels for approval. Despite his great work ethic, it sometimes feels like he’s dealing directly with management more than with his team. If this is the case, there’s a chance there’s a problem on your team, and your employees are the only ones who know it.
According to recent study by leadership development and training company, Fierce, 78% of employees said toxic co-workers are “extremely debilitating” to team morale. That same percentage also say managers are extremely to somewhat tolerant of these employees with negative attitudes. This is another area where employees can help you find problems you’re not seeing; if you think you might have a problem with team morale, privately ask your employees about problems they may have with the team. As you learn about each employee’s issues, you might develop a more accurate picture of how Carl works with others (hint: it’s not a good one).
They Can Keep You from Losing Good Ones
Another benefit of talking to your employees is you might find some of your best employees (who also work well with their team) don’t feel like the company appreciates the work they do. According to a recent poll by Harris Poll, 51% of surveyed employees said they don’t feel valued at work, perhaps a result of 46% of companies in the survey not offering individual performance recognition.
Your employees’ opinion of their valuation at work matters because it can lead to turnover. According to Careerbuilder, 65% of employees dissatisfied with their job say it’s because they do not feel valued. When employees don’t feel valued by their company, they’re more likely to jump ship.
You can cut this dissatisfaction off before it grows too large by speaking with your employees about what they feel is lacking in their work environment during your performance reviews. And since few employees will list “people don’t appreciate me enough” as a complaint for fear of sounding arrogant, you’ll have to breach the subject, and see what they say.
They Can Make You A Better Manager
Your employees’ opinions can help you find problems in your workforce, whether it’s a problem with other employees or ones the employee themselves has. But they can also help you, as their leader, become better at your job. Good leaders don’t just teach their employees — they learn from them as well. What employees want out of a leader, a recent report by the Ethics Resource Center says, are a number of important factors all working together. Victor Lipman (@VictorLipman1), author of “The Type B Manager: Leading Successfully in a Type A World,” said:
"They watch to see whether leaders are steady in a crisis, hold themselves accountable or, alternatively, shift blame to others. Workers also look at day-to-day management decisions to gauge whether ethical behavior is recognized and rewarded, or whether praise and promotions go to workers who bend the rules . . . Leaders who demonstrate they are ethical people with strong character have a much greater impact on worker behavior than deliberate and visible efforts to promote ethics.”
So while it’s important to gauge your employees’ opinions on matters in the workplace, good leaders will also take feedback from their employees to improve on their success. Your employees aren’t just numbers on name tags — they’re smart, capable and aware, and while not every idea they have will lead your company to new heights, there’s nothing wrong with asking for their opinion on a regular basis.
What are you doing to enable your workforce?
As the head of a department in the midst of a sustained period of rapid growth, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.