In my blog, “To Review… Or Not” we discussed the trend of companies moving away from the formal, written review with ratings to an informal, frequent feedback system whereby no formal documentation or ratings are collected. I also discussed in this article that not every company is ready for this more informal process, and I provided you with the key attributes that must be in place for success. One key to employee attraction and retention is the relationship between employee and manager. Today’s employees (of ALL generations) want to know where they stand, that they have development opportunities, and that they have a voice. So, how can you ensure that managers are giving your employees what they want? Teach managers how to talk to employees!
Creating a positive relationship between employee and manager is simple: talk. Open communication and regular touch base meetings ensure clarity and understanding, allow for two-way communication, and allow for goals and objectives to be changed as business needs and direction change. Ideally, managers will meet with employees at least every other month as a touch base meeting. This touch base meeting is not to discuss the nitty gritty tasks employees are handling on a day to day basis, but is to allow for the employee and manager to discuss performance, satisfaction and development.
So, what does a touch base meeting look like?
Performance: Every touch base meeting should include a discussion between employee and manager as to how the employee is performing against his/her objectives. Are they missing the boat on an objective? Are they knocking it out of the park? Employees should come to the meeting prepared to share what he/she feels is going well, not so well, and where they have road blocks they need assistance with. Managers should be prepared to provide examples to the employee of where they are exceling, where they are falling short, and where there may need to be a change to the goals or objectives based on changing business needs. Some good questions for discussion are:
• Is performance staying steady, gradually improving, greatly improving, or falling behind?
• What could be done to achieve even better results? What is needed to get there?
• What resources or support is needed to achieve or exceed expectations?
Satisfaction: At least twice per year, managers and employees should discuss the employee’s satisfaction. Is there anything they need from you? Does he/she feel connected to the rest of the team? Employees may initially feel uncomfortable discussing satisfaction so it is important that managers be open to the feedback and not take it as a personal attack. Some good questions for discussion are:
• What do you like most about your job? Least?
• What is the overall level of satisfaction in the position?
• What aspects of the work environment does he/she like the most? Least?
Development: At once per year, managers and employees should discuss the employee’s development. Where does he/she see themselves in 5 years? Does he/she have a goals with regards to their career? Taking the time to discuss what your employee needs with regards to development is a key to retaining talent and to setting expectations for those that are falling short in the current role. Managers need to learn to be honest with employees about strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, managers should be the first to tell an employee that has a development area that you will be there to mentor and coach them. Employees then need to be willing to take the initiative to work towards that next step or to improve an area of weakness. The responsibility lays on the employee, a manager is the coach and mentor through the process. Below are some example questions for use in the touch base meeting:
• What strengths or growth areas need further development for the current job? Future roles?
• Do you have an interest in taking on more projects/work? If yes, what are your areas of interest?
• What resources or support is needed to develop in these areas?
By dedicating time for these focused touch base meetings managers are more likely to create an environment where employees are engaged and committed. These meetings should last roughly 30 minutes and should be dedicated time between the manager and the employee.