Managers already have their hands full leading their teams through uncertain and turbulent times. Even worse, more than a quarter of employees would like to see them get fired.
This was the key finding of a recent Adecco survey. The underlying factor prompting this level of employee contempt is frustration and feelings of demoralization and being out of the loop as a result of the recession.
"It's obviously a tough time for everyone," said Rich Thompson, vice president of training and development at Adecco North America. "When you're in a recession period and decisions have to be made, the lines of communication seem to be less open simply because the level of strategic information increases."
More than half of all respondents went so far as to say they didn't think their bosses were honest.
"What happens is you've got these managers or leaders who will say, 'I think we're going to be OK' [while] all along strategic conversations are happening that they're not in [and the] next day they wind up downsizing 10 percent or 5 percent or whatever the case," Thompson said. "So there's this tinge of dishonesty - this belief that 'well, he knew all along' - [when in fact] they didn't. Any time people are directly effected, personally [or] professionally, by changes - whether it's pay cuts, layoffs, decreased benefits and flexibility - there's this idea that it's 'them versus us' and 'I can't trust them.'"
Needless to say, the recession has greatly affected the dynamics of the relationship between managers and employees.
"In times like these, employees want to know more about their status and it promotes the 'Where do I stand and how does this affect me?' [type of] questions," Thompson said. "Slow markets force managers and leaders to have more of these tough conversations. Unfortunately, they may not be equipped [and will likely] take the path of least resistance - and that really causes a lot of turmoil and dishonesty."
The recession has created the need for more conversations regarding employee status, Thompson explained.
"The good managers are saying, 'If we're going to be in a recovery sometime soon, I need to make sure my A-players know they're my A-players, and that I'm providing them with career development opportunities to make sure they're ready for the recovery," he said.
Progressive organizations realize talent is their greatest asset, and the best managers set their sights on long-term retention of talent, he explained.
"The [managers] that are going to get ahead of the curve are the ones who are saying, 'We have to make sure to mend the relationship with those who are still with us - especially the ones we want to keep," Thompson said.
There are two fundamental steps bosses can take to improve their reputation and win back their employees' trust.
"The most important thing is to communicate with A-players - make sure the future talent of the organization knows they're the future talent of the organization," Thompson said. "Secondly, [managers] need to do some sort of talent assessment and identify gaps or deficiencies they have and [determine] how to help them ready themselves for the recovery so they're not just surviving, but they're put into situations where they can be successful. A lot of that comes with training, leadership development, etc."
While there is much to be gained by investing in individuals, it doesn't always have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Thompson explained.
"Investment can be time, attention and development; it can be making someone a mentor; it can mean including somebody on a task force; it can be taking somebody to lunch," he said.
Thanks to Deanna Hartley / Talent Management Perspectives