Want To Be A Great Leader?
Want Happier Employees?
Want To Make Your Employees More Productive?
Then, Talk To Your Employees.
There are many parts that make up the qualities required to be a good leader but arguably the most important one is communicating and talking with your staff and employees on a very regular basis.
A good friend of mine runs a department for a medium sized company. Within the department, she heads a small team of very skilled people. She is very good and efficient at her job and she is a very skilled and experienced team leader. The team works well as a unit, but overall, she and her team members feel very lonely and dis-spirited.
There Is Very Little Contact From The Powers Above
The reason for this is due to there being very little contact between herself and the area manager; the manager very rarely visits the department and very rarely contacts them other than by occasional email. When the manager does visit, it is often rushed and there is very little time to discuss matters that concern my friend and her team members. Furthermore, my friend has never met or spoken to the CEO of the company or had any other direct contact with him, since she joined the company a full year ago.
Recently there have been some major changes introduced to their ways of working, including extensions to the hours that they are required to work and new restrictions to holiday entitlement and when leave can be taken. All changes have been implemented without consultation, potentially putting the company in breach of their employment contracts.
Her department runs well as a unit and it achieves good results but other units within the company perform less well and they have a large turn-over of employees, showing the employment culture throughout the company is possibly poor.
Being Left Alone Could Be Viewed As A Compliment
You could argue that the reason for little contact between the upper management and my friend’s team is testament to the high standards to which she runs the department but their good performance is at risk due to the feeling of isolation and poor motivation.
This case is not unique
I talk to many employees and team leaders in many businesses and in many industries and I know, for certain, this behaviour is common. Many CEO’s, Managing Directors, area Managers, etc. possess a poor knowledge of how to effectively lead and they do not understand or appreciate the benefits and value from frequent contact with those who work for them.
Recently a BBC Radio 4 programme featuring mental health problems in the workplace confirmed this. Callers to the program consistently stated that they were stressed over their work and many said the poor contact between themselves and their managers was a major reason for their stresses. Callers also confirmed their productivity and effectiveness in their work roles was suffering as a result.
Survey after survey also confirm much of this too, many highlighting the fact that many employees feel disconnected from the companies that they work for, due to the ineffectiveness of their leaders and the lack of communication between themselves and their superiors.
Tesco Is a Good Example
Sir Terry Leahy is known for taking Tesco from being the third largest grocer to number one in the UK and the fourth largest food retailer in the world, due to a large part, to spending much time on the ‘shop floor’ – he is reported to having spent 40% of his time with his employees and his customers. This frequent contact with his employees and the knowledge he would have acquired by the process was obviously invaluable.
When he left the company in 2010, his replacement did not follow this strategy and the business suffered a serious demise, partly due to not spending time on the ‘shop floor’ with the employees.
Contact With Employees Does Work
I know from experience that this strategy of frequent contact with employees does work; I have always prioritised employee contact, too, and my businesses definitely benefited from the regular interactions.
These benefits can be summarised here:
Contact inspires and motivates employees
Contact allows the employees to feel involved and valued
Contact allows employees the opportunity to raise queries
Contact allows for aspects of an employee’s job to be discussed
Contact allows employees the chance to raise concerns and grievances
Contact allows for ideas from employees to be passed onto the manager
Contact allows news of developments and changes about the business etc. to be passed onto the employee
Contact allows for the manager to hear feedback from the ‘coalface’ such as customer comments, etc.
Contact allows the manager to feel that he or she is in control of things within their responsibility