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Strengthen Manager-Employee Relationships With These 3 Initiatives

August 29, 2018

You may have heard the old saying, employees don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses. If you think turnover is all due to better-paying jobs and benefits, think again. Turnover is a multi-faceted topic. Several factors make up why a person will turn over. However, some factors pull more weight than others for why someone will turnover. One of those factors is an employee’s perceived relationship with their supervisor. One’s perceived relationship with a supervisor can revolve around several factors such as respect, friendliness, trust, and support. Below, we will discuss three areas where companies should focus their efforts to improve manager-employee relationships and retention stats.

1. Communication Skills

Have you ever had a boss you felt you weren’t clicking with or didn't connect? I wouldn’t be surprised if you answered “yes” to this question. In my experience, one of the biggest complaints from employees about their supervisors is a lack of communication skills. Examples include, but are not limited to, a perception of withholding information, poor communication around important organization or job changes, and inability to properly manage conflicts as they arise. Companies should consider investing time, effort, and money into assessing competencies important to being a successful leader, including soft skills such as conflict management, making a positive impact, emotional intelligence, and other important aspects impacting overall communication skills. Companies can then provide the necessary development opportunities to improve where needed for each leader or group of leaders. At the very least, encourage your leaders to check in with their employees, say hello, and “smile” every now and then. These small, low investment steps could make a large impact.

2. Engagement Through Continuous Improvement

More times than not, good employees – the ones we want to stay on the job, are looking for ways they can improve or are seeking opportunities to learn something new on the job. When these opportunities do not exist, including an inability to bring forward improvement ideas, employees may be less engaged and more motivated to leave the company. Therefore, it is important for leaders to stay in tune to the continuous improvement ideas and suggestions employees have. Consider placing anonymous suggestion boxes in common spaces, holding focus groups, and/or starting a continuous improvement committee, as just a few ideas to help employees voices be heard.  Leaders should also be aware of what learning opportunities are available to employees and consider employee strengths and development areas when offering available opportunities. Hold meetings with each of your employees if you do not have a good grasp on what their motivations and wants are and consider making this a regular practice.

Read more: Leadership Tips for Continuous Improvement

3. Training

The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. The same can be said when thinking about a company’s training processes and its employees – employees are only going to be as good as the training they receive. Thus, several factors should be considered when providing training, including who is giving the training, how long training period should be, and what content will be delivered as part of the training. Consider having designated leaders as trainers. Not only should these individuals have a desire to provide training, they should be individuals who are willing to answer questions and are approachable to employees. Training should also be provided consistently by the designated leaders, meaning that leader A and leader B teach the same process steps for completing a particular task. This eliminates confusion and frustration among employees. Last but not least, enough time and training should be given to employees, especially new employees, before they are placed on their own and expected to perform successfully.

If you believe that your employees are your company's greatest asset, don't risk losing quality talent due to a disconnect between an employee and his or her manager. Taking these three effective and practical initiatives can help to strengthen working relationships and promote productive behavior. 

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Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.