In my role as a brand consultant, I do quite a few employee insight assessments. These assessments are questionnaires and interviews I facilitate to gain insights on how employees perceive their brand in twelve different categories, and I also gain a deep understanding of how they feel about the company’s leadership.
I have reviewed thousands of assessments in my career and have consistently found that one of the top three things employees crave most from their employers that they rarely receive is “better” communication. Better in the sense of being high quality, timely, meaningful, informative and frequent. And this desire for better communication should not be surprising – consultants and counselors have cited poor communication for years as the #1 reason for conflict in relationships and poor employee morale.
Based on my experience and overwhelming evidence, I have created a list of what I believe are the top nine things employees need to hear from their leaders:
1. “This is what we’re doing”: Whether your company is in aggressive growth mode, in dire straits, or anywhere in between, your employees should know, and need to know what the company is doing and what direction it is heading. Most importantly, don’t forget to tell them why.
2. “This is how we are going to get there”: Everyone needs a plan and everyone involved should be kept in the loop. Communicate what the plan is and how everyone’s contribution will help. Make sure everyone understands how important his or her individual roles are to the success of the entire organization.
3. “Tell me how I can help you”: This is a very powerful statement. It opens up the door for your employees—your brand ambassadors—to let you know how they could be more productive. You’ll need each and every one of them on your side, working hard for you to make meaningful and measurable contributions. If there are any dull tools in your shed, you’ll need to know so you can help sharpen them.
4. “I trust you”: Everyone needs to hear this when they are making difficult decisions. These three words inspire people to do those things that make you want to say…(see # 5)
5. “I’m proud of you”: To add to impact, be very specific about why you are proud so the person will know exactly what behavior made you feel proud. Complete the following sentence: “I’m proud of you because (fill in this area with something very specific).”
6. “This is where things went wrong”: When mistakes are made—and they are inevitable— identify how, why and where things went wrong. You’ll want to provide a very detailed explanation of the sequence of events that led to a disaster so that everyone can turn the situation into a learning experience.
7. “This is how we will prevent similar mistakes”: Of course, when mistakes are made it is expected that systems, procedures or checkpoints will be put in place to eliminate the risk of repeat events.
8. “This is how we are unique and better than our competitors”: Nothing instills a sense of pride and a boost to morale than keeping your employees up to date on precisely how you are unique and better than companies competing against you. It provides everyone with a sense of spirit, competition and fight you’ll need to have to continue to excel and grow.
9. “This is our purpose”: This ties in very well with #1 and #2 above. It’s important for your employees to know why you are in business, why you believe you will succeed and what you want your company to stand for. Without purpose, there is no passion, and without passion, there is minimal motivation to consistently give 100%, when you need it the most.
Is there anything else you would like to add? I would be interested in your thoughts on a #10.