I think I have been fairly lucky that, for the most part, I have had a Manager who I’ve been able to respect and communicate openly with. But what happens when employee’s aren’t very happy with their leader?

Firstly, let’s look some issues I hear most commonly from people complaining about their Manager.

1. Lack of communication

This is one of the most common complaints by employees regarding their Manager. Interestingly, this is often received by the Manager with exasperation as they don’t understand how they could communicate more. Really, the key here, is that for most employees it is not about the frequency but the value of what is being communicated.

So if you are receiving feedback that employees are feeling “out of the loop”, then ask them to start letting you know when it happens – what are the specific instances where they feel that way? Empower them to give you feedback through explaining what the instance was and why they were missing some important information. Sometimes a framework can help, for example:
“I wanted to just chat to you for a minute about this project I have {project name}…. I found out on Monday that{this happened/this changed} and because I didn’t know that before I had to {spend this time/effort} and it was really frustrating.”

You realise this is such an easy fix. Ah-ha! “Ok, let’s get you on those {email distribution/meeting lists} in future”

You also need to have regular, scheduled 1-1 and team meetings that you prioritise appropriately. Sounds basic, but this is a sure fire way to keep the communication channels open and show that you appreciate and value your teams inputs. Possibly worse than not having meetings is scheduling meetings, but consistently cancelling them. This just tells your staff they are not that important, so prioritise these 1-1 and team meetings just as you would a meeting with your CEO or Board!

2. “My boss has no idea what I do”

If a Manager knew the complete ins and outs of everyone’s job then you could actually be a micro-manager.

In my view this complaint actually points to some more fundamental issues. Is there a position description? How are goals set? How do you communicate progress to your goals and objectives? How is appreciation and recognition shown? What kinds of catch-ups are happening between the employee and the manager?

If people just feel like cogs in a wheel they won’t be bringing their best self to work.

3. “My boss micro-manages me”

This is the opposite of number 2 and is one of the most difficult situations for employees to be in. So think about how you are spending your time. Are you taking over? Making too many decisions without consultation? Making changes to documents that are not material? Trying to force your own style on others rather than utilising situational leadership?

You have employed staff for a reason. Make sure you aren’t trying to do their job too. If you think that it won’t get done unless you are doing it, then it is time to performance manage the employee.

4. “My Manager hates working here and I do too”

I can’t tell you how much this makes me cringe. Part of a good leader’s role is to protect the team from some of the crappy stuff that happens at work, and not to burden their staff with their own issues.
We all have bad days. We all disagree with decisions at work from time-time. Try and do what you can to rise above. Keeping a good attitude and staying positive is not only infectious to others, but will actually help you to feel better.

Photo credit: kodomut via Visualhunt.com / CC BY


And finally….

Being a leader is not separate from your position description, but it is an absolute and inescapable component of your role. You may have great HR resources that build a framework for your people practices, but the onus is on you as a Manager to listen to your employee’s concerns and try and change practices or alter your behaviour.

It is absolutely true that people don’t often leave a job, they leave their Manager. Leadership training and self-awareness is so valuable to increase employee and engagement and also helps with your own feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction at work.

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