I have a friend. Let’s call her Jill.
I caught up with Jill recently and she was complaining to me about the lack of career development opportunity, a colleague of hers who was failing to pull weight and a generally toxic environment in her workplace.
When Jill had finished her rant I asked her if she had voiced her concerns to the boss to which she responded ‘there’s no point’.
Now Jill and I used to work in the same environment, for the same boss (let’s call her Mary) and I 100% knew where she was coming from. Mary was the boss who would frequently reiterate in team meetings: "please approach me if you have any questions or concerns", yet when you did approach her she would not take on board what was said. Mary would also look for evidence about the feedback in odd and obscure ways.
Turns out Jill and I are not alone. Futility is the strongest reason employees avoid approaching their managers with concerns. Harvard Business Review determined that futility was 1.8 times more common than the fear of adverse consequences as a reason for withholding ideas from direct supervisors.
Many leaders believe it is fear of adverse consequences that result in employees failing to approach them and as such go into overdrive trying to be friends with their staff. This is not what your staff need. Even if your staff see you as a nice person, they will not approach you with genuine concerns if you do not act on their feedback.
So when your employees come to you with feedback, listen and act. Also, keep your employee in the loop of where you are taking their feedback. That way they know you’re sticking to your word. Great ideas about workplace improvement come from all different people within a company and avoiding listening to those who deal with a variety of areas, faculties, customers etc. impacts the capacity for the company to grow.
So listen, act and maintain an open line of communication. Don’t end up like Mary. Mary lost 5 of her best employees in one year.