Why Don’t My Employees Listen to Me?

NEWSLETTER Why Don't My Employees Listen to Me

Take a moment. Who is the one person in your life who can be most honest with you about your behavior? The person from whom you can best take constructive criticism? 

Why is it you are able to “hear” what this person says to you? Is it because you know this person has your best interest at heart? Because their frank feedback does not jeopardize how they feel about you as a person? Feedback that feels like judgment cannot be constructive. I’ll guarantee that whomever it was that came to mind is someone that you trust, you respect, and with whom you have a sustained relationship. 

Now, wouldn’t you like for your employees to feel that way about performance feedback from you and your leadership team? 

Begin purposefully working to create that type of trust with your staff. Reducing defensiveness when discussing performance increases the chance that people are going to grow and move your business in the direction you want it to go. Here are steps you can take immediately to lay the groundwork for making your message come through loud and clear: 

1.Talk to your people.

Yes, really talk to them. What do they want out of their work experience? Their life? According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), Millennials are only staying in jobs about 2 years. They want opportunities to learn and to have challenging assignments. Be intentional about providing some of those opportunities for them, and mentor them through the experiences they want with frank feedback. 

2. Share information. 

Why shouldn’t employees know your business financials? Being transparent about basic information like financial goals, operational costs, and how the business is doing decreases the stratification of roles that could be a barrier to trust. Employees who feel trusted with information and understand the margins are more likely to be conscientious about managing costs or driving production. They see how what they do every day affects the bottom line. Connect the dots for them. 

3. Bring your external message internal. 

However you are marketing your business to the outside world is the way your people should be living it in day-to-day operations. When I shop at Lucky Market, I am always struck by how friendly and courteous the employees are to each other. I hear them greet each other cheerfully, say please and thank you, and see them pitch in when it is needed. Employees want to know that your company values aren’t just marketing; they will respect and trust more if you are all walking the talk. 

4. Demonstrate the behavior you want emulated.

Along the same line, if you walk around the office with your head down, grumble about difficult customers, and in general, display dickish behavior, don’t act surprised when you realize you have a group of people working for you who act that way too. Get over yourself. No one will trust you or respect your feedback if they don’t like you. Say please. Say thank you. Be grateful. 

5. Share the wealth, but only when you have it to share. 

Giving by-rote raises just because someone shows up to work each day and does a decent job does little to truly engage and motivate people. Won’t you feel a whole lot better about giving a bonus when people are meeting goals resulting in increased profitability vs. continually raising salary overhead for people who have no skin in the game? 

By sharing information, tying employee activities to your profitability goals, modeling good behavior, and giving them challenging opportunities, your staff is more likely to feel you really do consider them important. With newly found engagement, they will be more willing to weather a storm, make a last minute push, and offer suggestions about how they can contribute. People listen to people they trust. 

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