3-Step Method for Responding To Employee Concerns
In the world of Corporate America, it’s only natural for employees to feel the need to add their input regarding situations or happenings within the organization. This can be done in a variety of formats such as, engagement surveys, department meetings, and rumors heard in the hallway. Often times company leadership sees this as a negative thing rather than using it to their advantage. Leaders usually discourage employees from sharing information from the front lines.
Ways in which leadership discredits the information:
#1) Criticize. Leaders will criticize the way info is getting to them. In most cases it is considered “unprofessional” for employees to be gossiping.
#2) Minimize. Leaders will minimize the information by saying that it has been exaggerated or that it is inaccurate.
#3) Defensive. Some leaders may even become defensive of the information coming in, which is turn causes those decisions to lose validity.
#4) Excuse. Leaders will excuse the concerns based on having different intentions.
One main objective of leaders is to provide care for the employee’s experience which is why the above responses are natural. More times than not, the concerns are true regardless of the information being exaggerated or misinterpreted. It’s important to know that leaders should and need to respond to the input in some way.
Though these reactions can be completely natural, they can be equally counterproductive because it could imply that the employee input is wrong. This could lead to 1 of 3 things; 1) they are going to go out of their way to find evidence of being right, 2) they will refrain from bringing up any other issues in the future or 3) decide that leadership is disconnected from reality.
Here are 3 different outcomes for leaders to help employees feel heard:
It’s natural to want to jump to conclusions and immediately respond to employee input by clarifying or defending. If your employees feel comfortable enough to share input with you, be sure to keep the line of communication open so that the employee feels heard. Therefore, respond with questions so that there are no misunderstandings and in turn employees will be encouraged to be more open in the future. As an added bonus, thank the employee for sharing the input with you.
By following these guidelines, you can lead your department or organization with a much more productive environment!