Managers: Are You Avoiding Talking to Your Employees?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Like any manager, you are only human. You’ve got strengths and weaknesses – things you like working on and things you’d like to never have to do again. If one of the tasks you find yourself avoiding is talking with your team members, you’ll have to address this problem.

In a Quartz at Work post, Corinne Purtill references a survey which reveals that nearly 70% of managers struggle when it comes to ‘communicating with employees.’ If you’re beating yourself up because you’re not good at carrying everyday conversation with team members, it’s time to stop.

Many team members don’t care if supervisors ask about their weekend skydiving plans or other aspects of their personal lives. In fact, some employees might prefer to keep details of their off-​hours activities private. Team members do want to hear from you on work-​related matters, though, and they’d appreciate hearing sooner rather than later.

Purtill references Gallup’s annual polls which show that the most effective managers reach out to each employee every week. This outreach doesn’t mean you need to spend an hour reviewing every detail of their work. Your team members are interested in knowing how they’re doing. Consider using a system to track what employees have done exceptionally well in the past week and which projects might require a little more effort on their part. Share this information regularly with your team members.

Then ask for their feedback. They may be having trouble completing the task that’s not going well and could benefit from your advice. In these conversations, be sure to remind staff members that you are always available to help. Keep in mind that some staffers won’t feel comfortable seeking your help. In these cases, it's up to you to take the initiative to drop by their cube or start up a conversation on the inter-​office messaging system to ask how things are going.

You don’t have to be friends with your team members, but maintaining constant communication will make it easier for them to reach out to you as necessary and make it easier for you to set reasonable work goals. In the end, this communication also builds a supportive work culture and team loyalty.