Are you leading your employees or are they leading you?

Within any business environment, there are a number of relationships that are vital to ongoing enterprise success. This includes employees-clients, business leaders-clients and employee-employee. However, arguably, the most important is between managers and employees – both on a professional and personal level.

As most managers and employees interact with each other on an everyday basis, the strength of this connection can have a substantial impact on the level of service to customers and individual productivity. While both parties don’t have to like each other outside the workplace, during office hours, all differences have to be put to one side for the sake for the business.

Recruitment firm Accountemps recently put this relationship to the test, polling 1,000 employees about their managers and where they could improve.

Communication seen as key

According to the survey, 93 per cent of employees are ‘happy’ or ‘somewhat happy’ with their managers. At the other end of the scale, just 8 per cent are unhappy with the performance of senior management. Of course, there is always room for improvement with concepts such as communication and recognition cited as the top priorities moving forward.

Accountemps District President Bill Driscoll explained that these two factors are the starting point for any relationship.

“The employee-manager relationship is a two-way street, and both parties play a role in the dynamic.

“The employee-manager relationship is a two-way street, and both parties play a role in the dynamic. The best relationships are built on strong communication combined with mutual trust and respect,” he said.

When analysing the results from millennial workers, it was discovered that they want managers to provide more recognition for accomplishments. With this group becoming the largest workforce demographic by the year 2020, based on PwC insight, this is welcome feedback for senior management.

Accountemps noted that business leaders need to be showing gratitude for a job well done, regardless of whether it was a small or large achievement. By sharing these special moments, it can raise overall team morale while also showing professionals that they are appreciated and their work actually means something to those higher up the chain.

Equal for all employees

Employees are more just a manager’s puppet.

Recognition is a powerful emotive tool that business leaders can leverage to boost loyalty and productivity. However, as a recent University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business study explained, the level of respect and attention must be replicated across the entire workforce – not just a selective few.

Assistant Professor of Management Joel Koopman said that no employee wants to be treated differently than their peers. He noted that this can leave workers feeling envious of their co-workers, leading to something called ‘ego depletion’. This is where individuals don’t care enough about the work to do daily tasks.

“Workers who are valuable for problem-solving, skilled negotiating and finding timely solutions are also the ones who ruminate longer over processing the social injustice and envy they feel,” he said.

“This resulted in a higher degree of ego depletion and negatively affected their overall productivity.”

Of course, envy is an emotion that can last for a long time. As such, if managers are playing favourites, employees are certainly going to remember this and have a reaction over some days and weeks. For senior management, this should be a warning sign for recognition to be equal and fair.

The value of employee recognition programs

Regardless of whether it is celebrating career anniversaries, rewarding employees who make a difference or those showing good workplace behaviour, recognition should be something that every business does. Being a manager is more than supporting client relationships, it is about connecting with employees as people and understanding how to make them the best they can.

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