Room for improvement

A recent survey conducted by Robert
Half International polled employees’
opinions of their managers and company leaders. Many were satisfied with
their managers’ performance but were less
satisfied with company leaders.

Based on the survey prepared by RHI, a
good boss is a person who has developed
good relationships with his or her employees. Leaders should communicate with
their employees so they can develop trust,
familiarity and a connection that will help
employees improve, says Marilyn Bird,
regional vice president of RHI.

One reason that employees were less satisfied with company leaders is that it’s
harder for leaders to develop the communication and face-to-face time required to
create the relationships employees desire,
says Bird.

Smart Business spoke with Bird about
how people at any level of management
can improve their relationships with employees, what qualities employees look for
in leaders and the importance of being a
good boss.

Do you feel employees look for the same
qualities in company managers as they do in
company presidents?

When it comes to leadership, it appears
that employees are looking for similar qualities at all levels and hold leaders and presidents to equal standards. According to the
survey, employees do not feel they have as
good a relationship with company executives as they do with their direct managers.
This response may reflect the emphasis
being placed on face-to-face interaction
and communication time shared with leaders. Employees have more of this personal
time with their direct managers and therefore may simply feel closer to the managers they communicate with daily. Respondents voiced concerns that company
leaders do not communicate enough and
are not as visible.

How can managers improve their relationships with employees?

Frequent communication between managers and employees is critical. Employers
should know their employees well enough
to be a support system during a challenging
time and help provide direction. Here are
some tips.

Establish open lines of communication. Schedule one-on-one and team meetings regularly so that staff can contribute
to business decisions. Employees want
their questions, concerns and ideas to be
heard, so when someone on your staff has
a good suggestion, act on it.

Empower employees. Show trust in
your team by giving staff the authority to
make decisions. Be available when needed,
but allow your staff flexibility in how they
accomplish business objectives.

Stand up for employees. Support your
staff when they encounter roadblocks. If
someone on your team makes a mistake,
avoid rushing to judgment. Instead, help the
person learn from the situation and take
steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Recognize achievements. Praise employees for their accomplishments and reinforce the behaviors you would like others to emulate. Low-cost rewards such as
an occasional free lunch or movie passes
can be highly motivational.

Provide advancement opportunities.

In addition to competitive compensation and benefits, invest in training and development programs to help employees build
new skills. If budgets are tight, look for
other ways to promote career development, such as a mentoring program.

How does employees’ perception of management affect the success of a business?

There is a theory that people don’t leave
companies — they leave people. This means
employees’ perceptions are crucial to the
success of the business. People are connected to their relationships at a company
and are less likely to leave if those relationships are good. A good perception of
management is necessary to retain current
employees and attract new candidates.

Employees should feel that management
is working to develop them professionally
to increase their individual success, along
with the company’s success. People who
receive encouragement continue to improve and accomplish tasks. Without
encouragement, an employee may not feel
as loyal to a company.

The entire core of the business is about
the relationships within the company.
Performances reflect how employees feel
about their jobs and the tasks presented to
them on a daily basis. Keeping employees
motivated and comfortable in their relationships continues the growth of both the
employees and company.

What should an employee do if he or she has
a bad boss?

First, take the initiative of asking for feedback. Make sure to have a clear understanding of your basic responsibilities and
what your boss expects of you. Maintain
regular communication with your manager
and take steps to adapt to his or her work
style. Continue to ask for feedback on your
work, and if you need additional resources
to complete a project, let your boss know.

MARILYN BIRD is vice president of the North Chicago Region
of Robert Half International (
), a leading staffing
service specializing in accounting, finance and information technology. Reach Bird at (414) 271-4253.