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Silence: The Employee Engagement Killer

Thousands of books have been written about how to be a good – or even just an effective – manager.  But the fact is there will always be as many management styles as there are managers.  One trend among new managers, that shouldn’t be a part of anyone’s management style, is silence when it comes to providing your employees with feedback about their performance.

Many new and even some experienced managers think that employees will view infrequent feedback as a sign of trust.  Or, that employees will understand that there is no feedback being given because they are doing great work.  However, employees typically don’t see it that way.

Poor Work: A continued lack of management feedback can result in work becoming gradually worse, similar to eyesight.  The slip is so slow and so slight, you barely even notice.  Employees will either fail to notice their mistakes or worse, think it is acceptable when you let a few mistakes here, or a misstep there, slide.  An engaged manager ensures that no mistake goes unnoticed, not for the need to nitpick, but to prevent the issue from spreading throughout the employee’s work.  On the other hand, without positive feedback, employees can feel that there is no reason to excel if their work goes unnoticed.

Fear: Some employees crave feedback.  A lack of feedback can result in some employees fearing that their work is inadequate and not worth discussion.  Simple reassurances go a long way in maintaining the self-esteem of these employees.  Even feedback that you think is unwarranted will be appreciated.  Remember, good managers know how to adapt their management style to their employees.

Poor Work Environment: A workplace devoid of any management feedback will create a toxic work environment.  Employees want to be recognized with positive feedback when they’ve done a great job.  They need to know that someone recognizes their accomplishments.  Conversely, animosity builds in employees who have to constantly clean up after someone else’s mistakes when no negative feedback is offered to offending employees.

Further Problems: You may unknowingly give yourself an aura of unapproachability with prolonged periods of no feedback given to your employees.  Feedback, for better or worse, allows you to establish a relationship with employees.  Employees will feel uncomfortable approaching you if you have no relationship.  Also, trust can never develop in the absence of a relationship.

Make sure your employees are receiving constant constructive feedback by deploying an employee engagement survey to establish your baseline scores, and then periodically resurvey to gauge the effectiveness of your improvement initiatives. Contact us today to break the silence.

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