5 Things Managers Should Say to Employees

With nearly ten percent unemployment, it may seem ludicrous that a manager needs to say anything nice to employees these days. But you might consider the upside of treating your people well in hard times as well as good times.

In an earlier post, I wrote about things an employee should say to his or her boss. This provoked some harsh feedback because many readers may have thought I was referring to an employer as opposed to an immediate supervisor or manager. The immediate supervisor is someone who very likely also has a boss and therefore knows what it’s like to be in your shoes.

Unfortunately, there is a great divide between what employees want versus what their bosses think they want. And this has been consistent for a long time.

A survey on the discrepancy between what employees want versus what managers think employees want was conducted in 1946 by Foreman Facts, from the Labor Relations Institute of NY. This study was replicated with similar results by Ken Kovach (1980); Valerie Wilson, Achievers International (1988); Bob Nelson, Blanchard Training & Development (1991); and Sheryl & Don Grimme, GHR Training Solutions (1997-2001).

What Employees Say They Want (in order)
1. Full appreciation for work done
2. Feeling ‘part’ of things
3. Sympathetic help on personal issues
4. Job security
5. Good wages
6. Interesting work
7. Promotion/growth opportunities
8. Personal loyalty to workers
9. Good working conditions
10. Tactful discipline

What Managers Think Employees Want (in order)
1. Good wages
2. Job security
3. Promotion/growth opportunities
4. Good working conditions
5. Interesting work
6. Personal loyalty to workers
7. Tactful discipline
8. Full appreciation for work done
9. Sympathetic help on personal issues
10. Feeling ‘part’ of things.

If you just look at the top three things that employees say they want from their managers, you can see that these are at the bottom of what managers think employees want.

As someone who has worked in both for-profit and non-profit organizations, it always amazed me how little businesses use praise in the way it is often used in non-profits. A genuine “thank you” or “nice job on that project” can truly make someone’s day and often make an employee feel more satisfied and productive in his or her job.

Managers often forget that what motivates them are the same things that motivate their people. Employees want to be recognized and appreciated. They want to be treated humanely. And they want to be integral to the organization. Bottom line: it’s not always about the money.

Here are five things a manager should say to employees:

  1. “How can I help?” Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard developed the Situational Leadership Model on the importance of providing a combination of direction and support depending on where the employee is at a given time and position. Ask your employees what they need from you to perform their best.
  2. “Great job on . . .” Use specificity to make your praise authentic and meaningful. Everyone craves appreciation and receiving it can be more powerful in motivating an employee than just about anything else.
  3. “You seem particularly happy/sad/irritated . . .” Insert something genuine here to show you are paying attention to feelings. Say it in a way that communicates you are concerned and then really listen for understanding.
  4. “I want your input on . . .” This can make an employee feel engaged and appreciated in the organization like nothing else. But don’t say it unless you mean it and will consider what they say.
  5. “Thank you.” These two words are never used enough in the workplace. Using them more often is not simply for common courtesy, but as a way of connecting and showing appreciation for a job well done.

Employees and managers are more stressed than ever, working faster and with fewer resources. And lots of managers mistakenly think they are too busy to give praise, show appreciation, or truly connect with their employees.

But the best managers—ones who are able to effectively direct and support employees, recognize and appreciate them when appropriate, and remain sensitive to their emotional needs—are likely to get the most out of their people and thereby increase their own value to the organization.

What about you? Does this ring true for you who manage other people? As an employee, would you be more satisfied, motivated, and productive if you heard these things from your boss?

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About Mark Craemer
Craemer Consulting specializes in workplace communication, organization development and leadership coaching.

2 Responses to 5 Things Managers Should Say to Employees

  1. Pingback: Predictive Analysis to Motivate Employees | Workplace Wrangler

  2. Pingback: Higher Engagement by Meeting Employee Needs | Workplace Wrangler

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