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Your Employees Aren’t Stupid!

This is a note of caution to all the employers, organizational leaders and managers out there. Whether you actually think it or not, let me tell you, your employees aren’t stupid. They know when you are being honest with them (or not). They know when you are only paying lip service to them with respect to their workplace and employee relations concerns. It is actually worse for companies to try and “fool” their smart employees by saying one thing and doing another – all the while thinking that employees won’t catch on. Truth of the matter is that you are better off being upfront with them instead of trying to use a lot of smoke and mirrors to fool them or gloss over the issues at hand.

Stupid wordCase in point – let’s say that your latest employee survey shows that employees are really unhappy with the amount of training they receive to do their job or keep their skills up to date. Instead of launching a bunch of focus groups and having the CEO stand up at a town hall meeting and proclaim the importance of training, be up front with them and tell that there currently is no more money in the budget for further external training options or at the very least, there is a temporary freeze on training until the next contract is awarded (or whatever your particular reality is). While it might sting in the short term, your staff will appreciate your honesty in the long run. Remember, with that first scenario, you aren’t fooling anyone because your employees are not stupid.

Leaders and managers, you need to remember that your employees are always watching you. They are observing and making sure that your actions align with your words. They want to know that you are walking the talk. Far too often, companies commit (to their employees) to changing/improving something in their organization and they go through the hoopla of communicating their commitment to this change. Then, months later, no real change has occurred because nothing fundamental has been addressed (root cause) or been implemented in the company. Your employees aren’t dumb, they know this is because you are not ready or willing to change anything at present so don’t try and fool them!

Organizational values are another area where companies get tripped up with this concept. Posting a chart of values on the wall and proclaiming their importance to the staff and then not living them on a regular basis, let alone using them as guiding principles in organizational decision-making, is another recipe for disaster. Let me say it again, your employees aren’t stupid! They know if you believe in the values or not and they know if they are a part of the organizational DNA (or not.)

I am using the word ‘stupid’ to make a point here. (It caught your attention didn’t it?) I am trying to make the point that your employees are clever enough to see through things when companies and managers do not exhibit effective leadership and communication skills. The concepts above are merely examples of ineffective communication and leadership styles. Organizational leaders need to know that their employees are looking to them to lead by example.

Please don’t think you are fooling anyone that works for you by doing these sorts of things…then again why would you want to fool them? Be up front, tell them what you know and tell them what you don’t know, lead by example, involve them and above all, be a decent person. Those are some of the basic tenants of leadership and what employees are looking for in their leaders. As leaders, we need to be aware of how our actions and inactions will be interpreted by our employees. Oh, and in case I didn’t say it enough already, you have to remember that your employees aren’t stupid! As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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