I attended a conference a few weeks ago that was sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). In one day, I heard the same message in four different sessions by speakers who are HR practitioners. The message was that managers need to spend time really communicating on a regular basis with their direct reports about how they are performing at work. The fact that I heard this message repeatedly in session after session at a HR conference suggests that managers are NOT having meaningful two-way conversations with their direct reports about their job performance. The primary reason for this deficit is going to sound familiar to you: “I don’t have the time.” I might be wrong, but the following findings by the Gallup organization might influence some managers to make the time to communicate with their employees on a more consistent and frequent basis.
- Managers account for up to 70% of variance in employee engagement. According to a Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults showed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career. Yikes!
- Consistent and meaningful communication is connected to higher engagement. Employees whose managers hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose managers do not hold regular meetings with them. Employees value communication from their manager not just about their roles and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their lives outside of work.
I consider myself lucky that I “grew up” as a manager in a large corporation that invested heavily in leadership development training because the company had a ‘promote from within’ policy. Among the many things I learned as a leader was the importance of getting to know my direct reports as unique individuals with strengths to be leveraged and potential to be nurtured.
As an executive coach, I challenge my clients to conduct weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings with all their direct reports and to spend time learning about their direct reports’ goals, challenges, and aspirations – at work and outside of work. If you a a leader, I challenge you to do the same.