I’ve heard that about 74% of workers want to walk away from their jobs which means that only a quarter of the work force is happy with their jobs. That is astounding and sad.
This month I celebrated a work anniversary of six years, and the sad thing is that no one in management wished me salutations. I really wasn’t expecting any acknowledgment, but in retrospect I think I would have appreciated at least an email. After I was done feeling sorry for myself, I got to thinking about what management could do in this situation. Was it too much to ask for my manager to come over to my desk (in my case it would, I work from home) or to call me to say congrats and maybe reminisce about my first day on the job.
What can managers and companies do to make their employees happy and earn their respect? Over the years, I’ve had many managers and worked for several different companies, so I looked back to see which ones I enjoyed working for and why. Being the efficient person that I am, I was able to narrow my recommendations to three.
1. Show that you are human.
Sounds simple because most managers are human after all, but take it a step further. Don’t fear letting us know that you don’t know everything and that you feel comfortable asking us for help. As human beings, we have a natural tendency to want to help people, so you can rest easy that we’ll welcome your request.
I had a manager that struggled with her writing. She knew my background and came to me to help edit a proposal that she was presenting to her superiors. She came across as a confident business woman, sometimes abrasive, making her way up the corporate ladder, but when she asked for my help, I changed my opinion completely. I gladly offered my assistance with a new-found respect to boot.
Another important way to appear human is to make sure that your emails are void of jargon. When you write, “Because of poor service levels and low headcount, we’ll be onboarding in the next month,” you sound inhuman. Who talks like that? Oh, you must mean we’re short staffed and we’re going to hire someone. Why couldn’t you just say that. Don’t sound like an institution talking. I love this quote from William Zinsser from On Writing Well (a book I highly recommend):
“You only have to remember that readers identify with people, not with abstractions like “profitability” or with Latinate nouns like “utilization” and “implementation” or with inert constructions in which nobody can be visualized doing something: pre-feasibility studies are in the paperwork stage.”
How many times have you heard “bring your ideas, we want to hear your feedback.” And then when you do offer suggestions, you’re dismissed. This has probably happened to all of us, and what is our reaction? We tend to shut down and resolve to keep quiet in the future.
How can a manager handle this better? If she can fix the problem, then she should. If not, offer a good explanation as to why not. An employee doesn’t mind being told no if there is good reasoning behind the answer. Last option would be to suggest a person who might be able to help.
I had a manager years ago fresh out of college all gung ho and excited to manage people. Little did he know how difficult it was to manage our group. In my situation, I was quite a bit older, and I wasn’t going to take advice from some youngster. Well, this youngster took the time to sit down, one on one and talk to me. I was free to air my grievances without retribution. With that simple act, he earned my respect. I wasn’t expecting him to do anything to make my job better; I just wanted him to know how I felt. Sometimes this is all we need.
3. Provide good tools and resources.
If I have good tools to be efficient in my job, I’ll be a happy camper. And if I’m happy, it will be that much easier to make our customers happy. If I’m working with outdated software that is slow and incomplete, or I lack proper resources, I’m inefficient and probably frustrated.
I’ve started jobs that had 12 weeks of training and 1 week of training. Guess which company earned my respect quicker? A company that spends time and money investing in training, wants their employees to succeed and to provide great customer service. This same company continuously updated their training manuals so I knew they were serious about providing good information. And this was before it was online. We used to receive updated pages that we kept in a three-ring binder.
Keep contact information in one place. Don’t make me use a dozen departmental spreadsheets just to look up a phone number. How old is that software you’re providing your employees? 5? 10 years? Keep current, please! How about instructions on our processes so I don’t have to bother my supervisor? If you have an order entry system, does your software integrate with a credit card authorization software or are you having to re-key the order? We don’t mind doing work. It’s when we have to duplicate work because the company won’t provide us with proper tools that we feel unappreciated.
It doesn’t take much to earn your employees’ respect. If you listen to their ideas and complaints while offering to help, provide great resources that are efficient to use and sound like a human being in your memos and newsletters, you’ll have your employees raving about what a great company they work for. It’s that simple.