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The #1 Thing Your Staff Wants from You

No doubt about it, managing people can be a real challenge at the best of times. I know, I know, a real understatement! In my experience, and in my HR practice, I have seen and heard it all from managers when it comes to the challenges they face with managing and leading their teams. Well, maybe not all, but at least a lot! Let’s face it, managers deal with everything from attendance issues to performance issues; employee relations challenges to sexual harassment allegations – they deal with it all. So much so, that one of the top complaints I hear from managers, who are typically undervalued themselves, is that they just don’t know what to focus on when it comes to their staff.  Specifically, they struggle on where to focus their efforts in leading their teams, delivering results, etc. I often get the confused and frustrated manager come into my office, often after employee survey results are delivered, and vent/ask, “I (think) I am doing everything I can, what does my staff want from me!?”

Well, buckle up, because I actually have an answer for you on that one! Let me start out by telling you what your staff doesn’t want from you:

• They don’t want you to be their buddy
• They don’t want you to be a glorified organizational messenger or spokesperson
• They don’t want you to be an intermediary between them and YOUR boss
• They don’t want you to act as their “agent” with HR or other support departments

Time - blog postWhat they want is your TIME. Your staff want some of your time in any given day, week or month. Believe it or not, they value any 1:1 time they get with you. What they want to talk to you about may vary. Some of your employees need your time so they can talk about obstacles they are encountering while trying to complete their current work assignment. Some of them want to discuss personal issues that are impacting their attendance and/or performance at work. Others yet need to get a feel for how their current level of performance is matching up to your expectations. Some of your staff even want to discuss their career path and what their future with the company might look like. It is also important to keep in mind that some employees view getting a bit of 1:1 time with their manager, just to shoot the breeze, as a form of recognition.

Regardless of their reason(s) your staff wants your time. They value this more than anything. When they get time with you they are able to work with you, instead of for (or against) you. By getting your time, it helps them feel connected to their work and engaged in what they do. Keep in mind, the number one reason most employees leave their employer is due to the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor. A lot of people assume that means they leave because of a negative relationship but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate. Think about it – if you have either a non-existent relationship with your manager, or a strained one due to the fact that you simply can’t get any face time (feedback) from them so as to successfully complete your job, you are going to eventually change employers as well.

There is no silver bullet for this other than to make meeting with your staff your #1 priority. I guarantee this is what most of your employees want from you. Your time is the prescription for improved levels of retention and engagement – it is up to you to figure out the dosage level. Some of your employees might only need 15-20 minutes of your time in a week or in a month. Others may need an hour or more in a given week/month depending on the circumstances. The key is to talk to your people, listen to them and assess their needs. You can only do this if you make it a point to “give” them some of your time. What do you think – is this do-able? Do you agree or disagree that your staff views your time as the most important thing they need/want from you? As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of photostock/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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