Let’s talk Manager versus Employee.

There are always three sides to a story. The side the Manager perceives what happened. The side the employee perceives what happened. Then what actually happened without anyone’s perceptions, judgements or beliefs around it.  I’ve been lucky enough to experience multiple employers, projects, teams, team members, industries, leadership styles, roles and now the wonderful world of freelance and entrepreneurship. I say I am lucky because with all the hoops I’ve jumped through, I’ve been learning, practicing and upgrading my skills all at the same time to be the person I am today – which is awesome by the way!

Today’s topic is on encouraging team members to have honest conversations with their managers. This is so important if you plan to have long term employees and decrease turnover efforts within your company. Let’s face it, the working world is changing rapidly and with all this talk about leadership best practices, intergeneration’s working together,  employee engagement, and free food during your lunch hour, it’s really hard to keep up and know what really works.

Leaders in any organization, not-for-profit, public or private sectors, sports teams even need to understand how their members are thinking and feeling. If there is open communication and it’s honest and direct without blame or judgements, we can create long lasting relationships in the workplace. Relationship building is a skill and it takes time to develop. Especially even longer for the younger generations who think building relationships through text messaging and social media is how its done. (We have so far to go)  I’ve been in multiple situations now where both parties (including myself) were not direct in their messaging and upon leaving these meetings, feeling as if the whole thing was pointless in the first place. It causes frustrations and beliefs that aren’t even real. In the end, you have to book another meeting just to get the right message across because the tension is still there.

I’ll give you an example.

Say you have a 1 on 1 touch point with your Manager and he or she says, they feel that your performance is not up to their expectations and it’s causing a lot of problems for them and making them look bad with our departments stakeholders, partners and VP. Oh and, your role doesn’t look like it’s going to stay in the same place because your skill set doesn’t match the role anymore so we have to take a look at where we can move you if that is still an option but will have to take it up with the VP of HR. One more thing..don’t go to the VP of HR because he won’t really listen to you anyways, your position title doesn’t make you important enough.

What are some immediate thoughts?

  1. They are going to fire you.
  2. You’re not good enough for the role.
  3. Your Manager is NOT on your side.
  4. Your Manager does NOT believe in you nor do they want to support you.
  5. This is unfair.
  6. I do not agree on performance …it’s my 6th week into the role and I need time to learn. Thanks but no thanks.

Yeah it happened. That isn’t the whole conversation, however, it’s my perception of how the conversation went. When they say people don’t leave companies, they leave their bosses, I’d say this is most definitely a huge factor in the decision making process among many other things.

So how do we fix this? There is no one solution so here are my top three.

First, we can help by equipping managers with the right tools, skills and language to have difficult conversations with team members. This can be done multiple ways through training, social learning, coaching, experience and HR Business Partners as some examples. Check out our program on Leadership Essentials or email me to find out how we can use this program in your company.

Second, we need to encourage team members to let their managers know what’s going on through honest open communication and feedback. Let your team members know you are there to support them with their career goals and you want to help get them there. If there is an area an employee wishes to go and you feel like it’s definitely not their strongest suit, then offer opportunities for training, job shadowing, or research so they can get better at it. Communicate to them that you are dedicated to helping them grow through the resources you have and know of and they will appreciate this very much.

Third, do the work to help them reach their end goal. For example, an employee expresses their interest in workshop design and facilitation as an area they wish to pursue or upgrade their skills. Connect the individual with internal teams and projects to expose them to use this skill and give opportunities to practice. Always coach through the process and offer feedback either by a Manager, external coaching firm, or internal team members who have experience in these areas.

Creating leaders in teams regardless of position title is how we can help make the workplace more productive and enjoyable. Taking responsibility for what happens within our worlds can make a huge impact as well. If we stop blaming everyone else for what happened, we might actually get creative and solve our problems too. Managers have a big responsibility managing people and I help leaders develop a working roadmap to create the team of their dreams.

Side note: I worked in a company where an entire team dreaded going into meetings with their VP. The team had a ritual prior to the meeting (which I will not repeat) to help prepare them for her meetings. Don’t be that VP and definitely don’t be those teams who poke fun at their boss behind closed doors. This isn’t high school anymore…

If you want to learn more about solving problems in the workplace, join my “Moment of Truth” Meetup group and every month we talk about various issues in the workplace delivered in a mini workshop style. February is on encouraging team members to speak up and why it’s important. March is on getting clarity and taking action.

Click here to join

What kinds of conversations are happening at your work? Comment below and share your experiences positive or negative or forward to someone you know who may need to read this. You can also send me an email so we can chat on what problems you’re facing and how I can help.


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