Here’s what bosses and employees can do to foster better relationships
October 16 is National Boss’s Day, and you can hold the donuts.
The opportunity with Boss’s day is much more important than simply bringing your boss a cup of coffee, or bringing your employees donuts.
53 percent of Americans are currently unhappy at work.
And with millennials now making up 50% of the workforce, and demanding a different type of workplace culture, it’s time for companies to choose another way of doing business.
Let Boss’s Day be an opportunity for both employers and employees to create better relationships.
You may have heard the saying, “People quit their bosses, not their jobs,” and while it’s true that 50% of people report having quit because they couldn’t “tolerate their boss,” recent studies show that a key factor driving people to leave, is a lack of appreciation.
Among millennials, the top reason for leaving is lack of culture.
What Bosses can do to create better relationships
Knowing that people quit bosses and not jobs, a boss might wonder, “What can I do to become more likable?” The answer is not: more donuts.
Even if your employees don’t agree with your every decision or wouldn’t choose to be best buds and vacation together, they are likely to feel greater support and stay on board when you create an environment that they can get behind.
Here are three key things that workers today are looking for in their relationships with bosses.
Workers want leaders who Listen.
When is the last time that you posed a new idea, policy or strategy, in a brainstorm session with your team, or in a 1-1 with an employee, and asked for their input? If you can’t remember, then you likely are not listening enough. Listening when team-members approach you is also not enough. Being a good listener means that you’re cultivating opportunities for your team to share input. Inviting your employees to curate, or dream with you creates greater buy-in on their part. Team-members are more likely to believe in and get behind something that they helped create, and with many organizations struggling with low employee engagement, inviting team-members to share their input is a great way to both boost engagement, while also listening to staff.
If you are concerned about opening up a brainstorm session that may lead to feedback that you don’t quite want to hear, or may not choose to implement in the end, here’s a simple strategy to guide better collaboration and communication, without losing control in the process.
Create a framework for open brainstorm time. Let your team members know ahead of time about the meeting. There is nothing worse than popping into their office, unannounced and launching into a 45-minute brainstorm session that they didn’t know was coming when they have other priorities for the day.
Set a team meeting. Explain that there will be a window of time for which all ideas can go on the board. During this time, no ideas are to be tossed out. It’s important to create a supportive environment where there are no wrong answers, and everyone is encouraged to share. Establish what the process will be from there. You can say that from there, you’ll take all the ideas and distill them down and report back the following week for the next phase, or that you’ll take ideas to management, or another method. You could follow a process of elimination together with the team at that point, distilling the ideas down, and shaping them into a final result that is a win-win for all parties involved. This process is likely to have much greater buy-in compared to you mapping out the idea yourself and sending it off as a new policy across someone’s inbox.
It could ultimately be the same exact idea, but because it was arrived at collectively, it will yield a different feeling around it, and end result.
And more often than not, by engaging your team, the end result will actually be better!
Sometimes as bosses, we get stuck in the bubble of our own heads. Lean on your team and ask for their input. Listen to them. They want to be heard. They want to help. They want to grow and thrive. You’ll become a better boss, just by listening more.
Workers want Appreciation.
Stunningly, 65% of Americans stated that they weren’t recognized even one time over the last year in their role.
It’s an outdated mentality to think that it’s enough for workers today to simply receive a paycheck, and be happy with that. On average, workers change jobs every 2.2 years, and millennials change jobs at half that rate.
Regardless of whether your team member is going to stay on long-term or not, one thing is known, 60 percent say they are motivated more by recognition than money, and we know that employees who feel motivated and appreciated are far more productive.
Appreciation is about the person who is receiving. Seek to understand how each of your employees best receives appreciation.
One way that we do this at Strategic Partners as a small team is seeking to understand each individual’s preferences, throughout the employee relationship, from hiring to onboarding. As a boss, I seek to understand what each worker most values. I ask them directly if they were to earn a reward would they prefer a cash bonus, time off, company-sponsored training, or something else.
Ask your employees how they want to be shown appreciation.
In addition, small things count. Think of your own experiences as a worker. Who were some of your favorite past managers or bosses? What made them your favorite? Likely, they took time to provide feedback, support your growth, and likely, they also made you feel supported by celebrating your wins. Something as simple as a verbal mention during team meetings when a team member has a success, can go a long way.
At SP, we have a #wins channel in Slack (team communication tool) where we can each report our own wins, as well as shout-out to our colleagues when we see them accomplish something. This has become a place to pat each other’s backs and give credit where credit is due. In addition, we take time at the beginning of each team meeting for each person to share a win. Often, a team member will overlook their own win, and a colleague will speak up, offering praise. These small acts are easy to do, and go a long way in making your team members feel appreciated.
Workers want Culture.
Your company culture is the personality of your company, but it’s much more than simply having a hip office with a pool table. A strong culture is developed intentionally. Culture includes your mission, vision, guiding principles, values, workplace expectations and goals.
One of the best ways to develop culture is to provide the framework for what that culture is, so that people know what is expected. This includes, determining the values of your workplace and outlining what that looks like in practice so that team members understand what is expected. At SP, we have our values listed on a spreadsheet, along with a description of what each value looks like, in practice, as a below-expectation, at-expectation, above, and exceptional, and we review these values together, several times a year.
As I was developing this document, I shared it with the team during the development phase in a collaborative conversation and got their input in drafting what each value looks like in practice. This framework has been a helpful tool as it points to how we operate as a team culture. When someone is not adhering to the culture, I’m able to point to what we developed as a team, as a guide to facilitate a conversation about performance or behavior.
What Workers Can Do
Relationships are a two-way street, and while it’s the leader’s responsibility to lead these efforts, employees are not silent participants.
SP team member, Madeline’s advice for workers is, “Be honest about what you need out of a workplace both for your professional and personal wellbeing.” Explore a fair middle ground between you and your employer. Determine what’s most important to you, and have a discussion with your employer; this requires honesty.
The first step to getting what you need is speaking up. Team member Helen shares, “Speak up. ASK. For good leaders, this is enough to communicate to them that you have a need and aren’t sure what to do next. For example, if there are consistent mis-communications via email, ask your employer if there’s a better way you can communicate, such as face to face or over the phone, to improve communications.” Good leaders appreciate team-members who are proactive in the employee-employer relationship. An employer may not be aware of what you need, if you aren’t asking.
Team member Hannah shares, “Coming from a mindset of ‘everything has to be perfect’ can make it difficult to come to your boss with bad news, or when something on a project didn’t go well. Don’t be afraid to say “this didn’t work out, but here are the ways we can make it better.”
Finally, don’t allow past negative experiences to dictate what your current relationship with a boss or manager can be. Just because a past boss may not have listened, or been open to your ideas, doesn’t mean that your current employer will be the same. Don’t let a past bad experience prevent you from giving your current employer an opportunity to hear you out.
Employee-employer relationships are a two-way street, that involves so much more than donuts.
Although, they might make it a bit sweeter.