I recently met with a coaching client who is a Senior Director of HR for a Fortune 1000 company. She was patently distressed, having just been told that the team has been complaining to her manager that she didn’t make time for them.
Apparently when they needed her, she was always busy.
I asked my client if her direct reports had emailed her, requesting her time. No, they had not. Had they stopped her in the hall, and asked for a one-on-one? No, they didn’t. Had they texted her to let her know she was needed? Not once.
Hmmm…. So why did these HR folks go straight to their skip level? Why didn’t they just ask their boss for the time they needed with her?
The situation certainly warranted exploration.
My client and I spent 30 minutes reviewing what had happened on her team, and even more time looking at what hadn’t happened.
The two red flags were:
1. Why wasn’t the team being accountable for getting their needs met?
2. How is it that this Senior Director hadn’t noticed that resentment and dissension were brewing? Where was her accountability for this situation?
A similar scenario occurs everyday, across all industries, at all levels of management.
Yes, we’d like to think that if our team needs us, they’d let us know. Likewise, one might think that if the boss was inundated with projects, she or he would reach out to the team, give them a status update on the workload, and emphasize that if they needed support or a check-in, they should simply reach out.
What creates situations like this one, how do they rapidly escalate, and what can you do to prevent them?
Though most of us would like to think we’re excellent communicators with an exceptionally high level of emotional intelligence, in fact we’re just human.
This Senior Director was doing a great job on her 'work', but the emotional needs of her team were being neglected— the ever-present people piece.
The human factors are the ones that contribute to employee engagement and disengagement.
Despite what we’d like to think, at heart we’re all just kids. Yes, it really is that simple but, as adults, we tend to complicate things.
We want our work mom and dad, (our boss), to pay attention to us. We want to be acknowledged. We want to feel special. We want our team members to like us too; to think we’re smart and cool, and to pick us first for the exciting project. Like kids, our feelings still get hurt, we get angry instead of sad or fearful, and we want others to notice how uniquely terrific we are (and to tell us so).
There are many things engaged employees want and need from you, as the leader of their team, and they have little to do with getting their jobs done. That is, if you want to keep them engaged.
The 10 things listed below are merely a place to begin. These desires are remarkably similar to the things your children want and need from you. (If you don’t have children, think of the things you wanted from your parents).
Think: Human to human, not to boss to employee, and it will be a lot easier to get things rolling.
Here are 10 things your employees want from you.
1. Recognition I want to know that you’re paying attention. Acknowledge me and my work. Call my successes out in meetings so others know I'm making valuable contributions. Yes, it’s my job, but hearing positive words from you encourages me to reach beyond expectations.
Show up on time for our one-on-ones. When you consistently cancel, I think I’m unimportant to you and the team. If I need you, I'll say so... but you may want to occasionally ask me anyway.
3. Leadership Training
I invest all of myself in my job, so please invest in my advancement. I wasn't born knowing how to lead and I can use all the skills I can get. I gain as much from your willingness to let me attend the training, as I do from the training itself.
4. Opportunities to stretch and grow
I'm unwilling to take a position in an organization where there aren't any opportunities to grow. Give me projects that will challenge me. If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out. This lets me know you have faith in me and my ability to take risks.
If something goes sideways, just step up and say so. I'll do the same.
Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it. If you can’t, let me know. Please don't make me promises about my career unless you're positive you can follow through.
7. Care about me as a person
I may be a high performer, but I’m a person first. If I come in to the office looking exhausted, there's a reason. If I need a few hours off, there's a reason. Trust me to take care of myself so I can give the team everything I've got. But remember I'm human, and that life happens.
Have regard for my feelings, attitudes and aptitude. Celebrate my uniqueness as an individual. Be courteous and appropriate. Assume I'm doing my best as a human being and an employee.
I want to know that I can count on you; that you’ve got the team’s best interest in mind, that you’ll never throw me under the bus, and that you’re rooting for my success.
10. Keep me updated
I don’t know what’s on your plate if you don’t tell me. It doesn’t burden me to consider the enormous details of your job. In fact, it makes me feel more engaged and connected to know why you’ve rearranged our schedule, changed my priorities, or reassessed my role.
Boss, if I left out something critical, please let me know. Also, I would really like to know what critical things you want from me. Human to human.
Does this scenario sound familiar? What do you want from your manager?
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