Do Managers Dislike Communicating with their People?
Updated: Oct 25, 2019
Not all leaders are comfortable with the responsibility. How do we know? Numerous surveys of employees suggest around 80% would like more feedback from their immediate manager. Apparently the fear of hurting people’s feelings or dealing with potential emotions and retribution (bullying and harassment accusations) hold leaders back.
How much of a problem is this, really? An Interact survey conducted by Harris Poll in 2016 showed that a majority (69%) of the managers said that they’re often uncomfortable communicating with employees. More than one third (37%) admitted that they’re uncomfortable giving direct feedback about their employees’ performance if they anticipate the employee might respond negatively.
The survey results also reported that many managers are uncomfortable with praising good behaviour or recognising results. Saying, "Good job well done." has them uncomfortable too! As does communicating the “company strategy or values or policy,” giving clear directions on how to do a task, crediting others with having good ideas and having corrective feedback conversations. In summary, leaders don't like talking face-to-face with their team members. Why did we promote them?
The point managers are missing is that their people thrive on feedback. Feedback is how they learn - and most (80%) say they want more face-to-face time from their manager - they want the praise, the corrective and the development conversations.
Imagine working with a boss who avoid giving you feedback - you'd never know how well or poorly you are performing or how fast you are improving. You’d have no way of knowing whether you’re on track or meeting company goals.
Avoiding specific feedback leads to dysfunction, disconnection, and a low performing team. So, leaders, take a deep breath and start talking to your team. There is some emotional intelligence required, and some skill in adapting your message to the communication styles of your audience. Basically, however, just give your full attention to your team member and speak with courtesy and respect as you set expectations, praise achievements and give forward focussed corrective feedback for those off-track.