What do employees want? While the answer varies by employee, our research and work reveals a collective “wish list” every boss should know. What follows are some of the most sought-after wishes and those that come up most often as unmet:
1. Take action on employee suggestions
The action might be to loop back with the employee to share appreciation for their thoughts, and help them understand why you are or are not implementing their suggestion. The action is closing the feedback loop, which can be as worthwhile as implementing a suggestion an employee has. Either way you’re saying that what they shared was valuable. This will motivate them to their suggestions in the future.
2. Recognize and show appreciation
Say “thank you” for a job well done. Reinforce very specifically the behaviors you want to continue to see. At a two-way communication training recently, a woman asked whether she needed to reward and recognize someone on her team for “just doing their job.” Absolutely. Jobs don’t inspire and motivate people; leaders do.
3. Less BS and more humanity
Enough beating-around-the-bush, or worse yet, “spinning” of messages. Employees want to know what’s happening and why in a direct way. Tell them what you know when you know it. Chances are, you’re currently waiting too long after getting key information to communicate.
4. Empathize with them
Pause and imagine how they’re feeling. Show you hear them, and validate their feelings. The payoff is an employee who knows you care; at the same time, you gather information that’s useful to motivate that employee.
Stop talking so much. Ask for input and feedback. Employees are more likely to support things they help create. Stop the monologues and talking at them; have real, two-way conversations.
6. Understanding of your expectations
People rise to the expectations set for them. Many problems in business are caused by a lack of understanding of expectations or a misunderstanding of what’s needed and expected. Have you developed and articulated your expectations?
7. Show employees you care (in a genuine way)
Find out what’s essential, and remember critical milestones that are important to employees.
So that’s my short list.
Best of all, everything on the wish list is free.
Which of these skills do you need to focus on?
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