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The Communication Conundrum

As leaders, managers and for some of us, as HR professionals, we are faced each day with the challenge of engaging and retaining our best and brightest. There is a lot of chatter across the various social media platforms and business publications about how to best retain our employees, or what the top reasons are why our best leave, etc. Some studies seem to focus on pay, while others speak to providing development opportunities, upward mobility, etc. I personally subscribe to a slightly different theory; that is, I believe that without regular communication (Re. coaching) between an employee and their manager it is hard to move forward with an effective employment relationship. Think about it – in all the research out there citing reasons that employees leave, they all begin with communication (or in the case of those that leave, miscommunication.)

For example, issues around pay often (not always) stem from the employee feeling that they are underpaid for their level of output and performance that they are providing to the company. Regular, effective communication between the manager and the employee can help remedy that. A huge part of this relationship should involve a manager sitting with their employee and setting effective goals and objectives that link into key performance indicators for the employee. Then, regular follow-up meetings throughout the year will ensure that both parties are aware of where their observed level of performance is at. We need to shelve the reliance on the annual performance review to address this. If you are just communicating with your employee once a year at the annual review time, you have already lost the “war for talent.”  A year has gone by and you have not let your employee know how they are doing, what progress they have made (if any) and where things are heading. This also becomes problematic at the time of the review when the employee gets a rating and/or increase they feel is not in line with their performance (often based on their own inherent assumptions about their performance…after all, no news is good news…right!?”

You can also see the spin-off effects from the last example. An issue in pay then manifests itself into an issue with career development. Without regular dialogue with your employees, managers are not able to engage in those key career development discussions that are often the cornerstone for employee retention. Effective communication and coaching also allows the manager to uncover root cause issues that may be impacting an employee’s performance and it helps to flush out many of the old “will vs. skill” issues.  The beauty of this is that by effectively communicating with your employees, you are also reducing the potential that the reason for someone leaving is “poor supervisory relationship.”

Proper communication builds trust and is a “must” as it is the foundation of the manager/employee relationship. Without it, there can be no discussion or analyses around pay, performance, career development, etc. Ultimately, this is the single most important part of the supervisor/employee relationship. For those of you that have regular communication and coaching sessions with your staff, you are well on your way to higher levels of employee engagement and retention. For those managers that don’t, why don’t we pledge to get started today! Start with something you can handle, like sitting down for 30 mins a week with each of your employees (if you have a smaller employee base) or perhaps every two weeks if you have a larger base. Set up a small agenda that outlines what you want to discuss with your employee and remember to allow for two-way dialogue. Focus on things like the employee’s goals, current performance levels, specific deliverables met or not met and coach on how to maintain or improve. Close by asking them what challenges they are facing in their role and what you can do to help them overcome those challenges. Think of these meetings like small bank deposits. Consistently make the same deposit week over week and watch your investment grow! I challenge you to change your mindset at work and for you to WANT to communicate with your staff…..after all, they are the reason you are a manager.

Image courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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One Response

  1. […] Above all – COMMUNICATE. Communicate to your staff what you are trying to achieve with your compensation system. […]

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