Over the last few weeks, like many people, taxes have been filed, business year-ends closed off and lots of money heading to our lovely friends over at CRA. With that closure, I took time to reflect on what I have learned in the last 6-7 months through conversations with business leaders, management and HR professionals.
To give you an idea of what I do for a living, as an executive recruiter I talk with small to mid size organizations and look to understand their needs around their people. Whether that is around themes such as attraction, onboarding, development or engagement, it always focuses on three key objectives – productivity, progression and retention. Once we understand their current circumstances and have a sense of where they want to go, we bring in the as needed expertise to support those goals.
Communication is Key
So what have I heard from our clients? Well, despite the wide range of industries and revenues they each have, the vast majority have the same challenge – poor communication with their employees. Now let me be clear, the intention to communicate is always there and they do their best to make their people happy. Where they fall down is communicating expectations, recognition of success and confronting of challenges. The purpose and focus of the communication is lacking and fails to address the need at hand.
Too often communication is focused around good news, it is easy, comfortable and enjoyable. However, being willing to address challenges and have the confidence in yourself as a leader to have that candid, forthright conversation is lacking. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t want to do a good job at work. Some may consider me fortunate, perhaps even deluded, but I believe most people, if given the chance, want to be recognized for doing their job well. Now I have met many people in the wrong job, not in the right company, but still feel that people want their work to be meaningful to them. The challenge is too many people don’t know what their manager or leader perceives to be a good job, leading to a disconnect in what they are doing versus what their manager wants them to do.
It Starts With Good Onboarding
Those challenges usually start with onboarding lacking a clear outline of what is expected of the person over an extended period of time – essentially the new employee doesn’t know what they have to do in order to do a good job. Feedback on their performance is limited to an annual review and lacks the depth needed to create development opportunities moving forward. The only feedback they get is positive and shallow, with concerns on their performance only discussed when it is too late. Criticism is not a bad thing, we learn from our failings and gaps in ability. Giving people the proper information in the right way, gives them a chance to change, adapt and grow in their role. Progression, development and retention are all positively impacted when your employees feel they are contributing and being recognized for good work.