Employee Communication

Employees: Your Number One Renewable Resource


Machinery, methods, materials, money, and employees.  These are all resources that management relies on to get the job done.  If you had to pick one of these resources, which do you think is the most vital?  If you’re like me, the answer is easy: employees!  Imagine, for a second, if all your employees decided not to attend work one day.  What kind of work would be accomplished that day?  Would any?  Probably not!

In my most recent book, Leaders are MADE, Not Born! I outline three of the biggest complaints employees have regarding their leaders.  This May, let’s break those complaints down and take a look at how you can address them in your company!

Boss, Get to Know Us on Our First Day of Work!

Getting to know new hires only takes a few minutes out of your day.  After all, this person is the newest member of your team.  Studies show that employees who feel a sense of ownership in their work and place of employment are more engaged and more likely to go above and beyond the expectations set for them.  Make sure your employees know from day one that you value their work, their ideas, and their time.  You’re the leader, yes, but lead by example.  Model the kind of behavior and work ethic you would like to see in your team.

Boss, Take an Interest in Us!

Your involvement doesn’t end on day one of a new hire.  Developing a relationship with all members of your team from the newest to the most senior will take you far.  Find out what their plans are for an upcoming vacation, express sympathy if they’ve recently lost a loved one or had to put a beloved pet down over the weekend.  Even something as simple as remembering their kids’ names will go a very long way in establishing a relationship with your team.

A word of warning, though: you are still the boss.  Be careful not to become your employees’ divorce counselor or therapist. Taking an interest in their lives and stories doesn’t mean trying to fix all their problems.  Get involved but keep boundaries clear and everything professional.

And, hey, I get it! Things get busy, and sometimes the personal details can fall through the cracks.  Don’t be afraid to make building a relationships with your team a priority, even if that means delegating more often when it comes to other tasks.

Boss, Don’t Become the Invisible Leader!

You might be wondering what, exactly, an invisible leader is.  This leader is only interested in good news and is otherwise absent—aka, invisible.  This leader is ill equipped to deal with anything beyond the good.  Got a problem?  Take it elsewhere.  This leader’s door is usually closed, and they are often uninvolved with the day-to-day of the office or workplace.

How can you avoid becoming an invisible leader?  Easy. Use the MBWA way.  That is to say, Manage By Walking Around.

The MBWA way is has been around as long as dirt.  Maybe even longer!  It basically boils down to a leader making themselves not only open and available to complaints and conversations with their team, but actively seeking out these conversations.  While walking around the floor, I often pause to ask employees what’s going on today. I make a point to find out if anything is preventing them from doing their jobs.  What I’ve learned is that employees are more likely to tell me what is on their minds point-blank in this context.  Even further, they give me bits and pieces of information that I needed to develop solutions.

In the flurry of activity to keep an eye on over-arcing goals, it can be easy to lose sight of the day-to-day details that build a thriving business.  But leaders, remember: your employees are your number one resource!  Keep them content, heard, and interested, and you’ll soon find a happier, more invested team ready and revving to work hard for you and your company.

Good to Great: Communicating with your Employees


Time and again, experience and surveys show that one of the main factors feeding into employees deciding to seek out new employment rests in those employees feeling seen, validated, and valued. Those feelings come directly from communication with you, their boss! In fact, the main difference between great bosses, good bosses, and subpar bosses rests entirely in how those leaders communicate with their team. We all want our employees to feel valuable and never disposable. So how can we communicate fully and effectively with our employees? 

Glass Half-Full 

It’s easy to lose sight of the positives in order to focus on areas with room for improvement. But if employees are never recognized for their successes, they may begin to feel undervalued and unappreciated. Take the time to verbally tell employees, “Good job!” or “You’ve really improved!” When it comes to praise, a little (or a lot!) can go a long way. 

I also like to take the time to appreciate when an employee has gone above and beyond. We all like to think of our teams as places where collaboration is the default, which means showing your gratitude when an employee helps another, helps you, or takes initiative and goes a few steps further than required. A simple “Thank you” shows your employee that you’ve taken note of their hard work. 

Clear Expectations 

Think about when you were a kid, sitting in the passenger seat of your parent’s car. Your parent tells you to go ahead, take the wheel and steer for a while. That’s the only direction you’re given: steer. You’re left to figure out what that means, and the car meanders first towards the middle dividing line, then towards the shoulder. 

Sometimes, your employees may feel like that kid steering the car for the very first time. Check in from time to time. When you first delegate a task, after explaining make sure to ask, “What’s our goal?” This gives a big-picture image for your employee, as well as requiring them to repeat back what you’ve just instructed, giving both of you the chance to make sure everything is clear. Before leaving, say, “Let me know if you have any questions.” This shows your team that you’re approachable and open to assisting should road bumps occur along the way. 

Room for Improvement 

Of course, there will always be times when some corrective communication must occur. This isn’t a bad thing, however, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Think about being the kid in the car again. When you drift towards the center, your parent shows tells you to go back to the left. When you get too close to the shoulder, they send you back to the right. They correct in the moment, and not after the fact. 

To jump to another metaphor, think about someone who has spinach stuck in their teeth. If that green leaf was in your teeth, you’d want to be told immediately, right? It’s the same for your employees. Very few people intentionally perform a task incorrectly. So if you notice something not going to plan, take a moment and check in. Phrases like “How can we improve?” or, if you expect an outside factor is impacting performance, even checking in with the person themselves. “How are you?” 

And sometimes, it may even be you, the boss, who has made the misstep. Address it immediately and own up to it. “That was my fault. I’m sorry.” Employees learn from watching us. We lead by example. Make sure you’re setting a good one from take responsibility, noticing work well done, and communicating clearly.