Watercooler Work Relationships

5 Complaints You Aren’t Hearing From Your Employees

Written by Miranda Pennington

Even the best leaders occasionally overhear the people they supervise griping about something at work—interdepartmental kvetching is normal, and it can even be healthy blow off steam! But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to hear.

Heather Younger, Employee Experience Consultant writing for the Huffington Post, has some insights—the things your employees are probably thinking but don’t want to tell you. Maybe you can start making changes before discontent roils over into more disruptive activity.

1. They want you to care about them as people.

Yes it takes energy to get to know your employees and accommodate their needs, but it’s a crucial investment in the strength of your business and the resilience of your workforce. Be willing to listen—even to the things that are tough to hear—and willing to take action once you’ve received valid feedback.

2. They feel they can’t provide honest feedback.

Every employee can probably point to a time when they spoke up about something and were ignored or overruled or faced consequences later. Have you created a safe space? Do employees have an anonymous way to contribute feedback?

Let them tell you what you could be doing better, and don’t punish them for noticing vulnerabilities. Provide positive recognition for employees who provide especially helpful ideas, and you will be rewarded with closer working relationships among your team.

3. They often do not trust their manager or senior leaders.

Mistrust, in my experience, arises when employers actions do not match their words. If your employees see you putting on one face in a meeting and another one behind closed doors, if you make promises you fail to fulfill, or if you violate their confidence, their trust in your may take a hit. This is particularly true for micromanagers—if you clearly don’t trust your employees to do the job you hired them for, why should they trust you to direct their talents and time?

4. Recognize and cultivate meaningful work.

Odds are you’ve already learned about at least a few of your employees’ outside passions—the things they would spend time on even if they weren’t paid to do it. How can you bring some element of those hobbies or interests into their daily work?

At my most frustrating job experience with an arts education nonprofit, one of the best outlets my manager was able to give me was helping in an arts workshop after school. It gave me a break from writing grants and trying to manage board members and provided a really important window into the teaching I really wanted to be doing. Maybe it feels silly to have a conversation about how to bring private interests into the workplace, but it revolutionized the way I thought about that job.

 5. Many are seeking opportunities to grow, inside or outside of your organization.

Along the same lines, remember that your employees probably don’t see themselves in their current role permanently. If you don’t already have annual meetings to review their work and set short- and long-term goals, establish some ASAP. Make sure you know what they’re hoping to accomplish and take steps together to advance them towards those goals. If you don’t, some other company will.

So open your door and listen up—try to hear what your employees aren’t saying and respond as though they had spoken up!

5 Things Your Employees Aren’t Telling You But You Need to Know

Read More at Huffington Post

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.