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Letter to Leaders

Employee Communication is a 2-Way Street

The most frequent criticism of management, in every 360 survey we’ve done (and seen on a national basis) is

“I don’t get enough feedback from my boss.”

– or –

“My boss(es) is/are not good at communicating.”

I believe that communication is the crucial component in managing people.

And I agree that most managers and leaders don’t do a good job at communication.

One of the best bosses I ever had was the Training Manager at a large company. He trained me when I started years before. I eventually became a trainer. Chris spent time watching me train and really left me alone. But I had no idea what he though of my performance.

I finally asked him what he thought, and he said, “You’re the best trainer I have, and one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

That was flattering, but I asked him for his suggestions for improvement, and he gave me a few which really helped me.

Chris told me his attitude was “If you’re doing well, I don’t need to talk to you.”

His mistake, which he corrected after this conversation, was that I didn’t know what he thought of my performance.

Implicit in the failure of managers to properly communicate is the failure of employees to “manage up”. Managers cannot simply divine, through ESP, what an employee wants and needs; it’s equally incumbent upon employees to ask and tell their manager what they’re looking for as well.

A good manager will always welcome the chance to find out what their employees need.

So – if you’re an employee who’s unhappy with the lack of feedback, or feels that communication is poor – make sure to ask your boss! You’ll be surprised that your boss didn’t know that was an issue, and the best bosses will take your information and be able to transform your employment experience.


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