Employee Relations Are Fragile

It’s definitely time to discuss motivating employees and properly communicating as a manager as each employee is a unique as a flower. Unfortunately, one of the days this week started with an employee venting his frustrations about the way his manager approached him with a topic. My heart went out to the guy as the information that was conveyed wasn’t exactly motivating and it was done in such a demeaning way that it just made the whole situation that much worse. It raised my eyebrow an hour later to hear that the manager thought his discussion with the employee was pleasant and that the topic that was brought up was actually not the main point of the conversation. After listening to both opinions, it’s clear to me that this was a breakdown in communication on an epic scale. What led to these opinions? I’m so happy you asked (and if you didn’t then I’m sorry because this boat has already set sail and there’s no stopping it).

The manager approached the employee just moments after they arrived at work with the intention of finding out whether the employee was looking to leave the company soon. However, instead of asking in a skillfully crafted or politically correct type fashion the manager started the conversation by pointing out how lazy he believes the employee has been recently. Immediately that puts the employee on the defense and I can’t blame him on that one. Lord knows if you started a conversation with me like this moments before I walked in the door I would probably be defensive as well. From there the conversation continued on by the manager telling the employee that he can see that he’s doing the bare minimum to get by. All of this came out of the managers mouth as a precursor to hinting at the fact that he thinks the employee is in the midst of leaving the company.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m thinking there has to be a better way at getting to the point of the conversation. I’ve learned in my past that making an employee feel as if they need to be defensive to combat what a manager is saying is not a positive way to start any conversation. Knowing the employee as being a more laid back kind of guy who is fairly up front I think this conversation could have been handled in a more direct fashion and with much more tact then it was originally shown. However, I also know that the conversation could have been handled in such a way because I have taken the time during my last year to actually get to know this young man on a work appropriate level. I think it is safe to say that this manager hasn’t shown the employee the same level of respect and taken the time to truly learn those who work for him.

It’s interesting how both parties involved had a very different version of the conversion’s point, delivery and acceptance. The manager walked away satisfied that he got the answer he was in search of. The employee walked away with a crushed ego, feeling unappreciated, and wanting to collect his thoughts so he could have an argument to counter back with. To him this was a battle that was started and not an open and closed case. I can reassure you that this employee was in no means motivated to work harder as he spent more than a half hour at my desk venting. This is a lesson in ensuring we are communicating effectively and that our message is properly understood by the employees we speak with. Are you being abrasive, combative or placing blame when it is not necessary when speaking to employees? Is there a more appropriate way to convey your message or achieve getting your answer? Do you know the best way to speak to each of your employees? Every employee is an individual that comes with their own unique way of receiving information in the best way. Take the time to learn the languages of your employees and your communications can improve for the best interest of your company and success of your team.

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