How Employees Really Feel About Their Bosses
Some Employees Think You're Totally NegativeAnd Your Leadership Team Definitely Thinks SoYou Don't Often Communicate ProactivelyBut You Do Respond QuicklyYour Leadership Team Is a Little ScaredEmployees Would Love More Focus on VisionEmployees Know You Work Really HardYou Respect the Opinions of Your Leadership TeamBut That Doesn't Mean They Tell You EverythingEvery Empoyee Wants Less Micro-ManagementYour Mirror May Not Be Slightly WarpedBut Overall Your Employees Feel Good About You
You think you know how your employees perceive you. But do you really know? The folks at CEO.com set out to answer that question, surveying hundreds of CEOs, executives, and employees to get a 360-degree view of business leaders' communication styles, priorities, and motivation techniques. (Here's the full report.)
You may just find that how you think you communicate and lead is very different from the way your words and actions are actually received... and in the process find ways to do an even better job of running your business. -- Jeff Haden
Finding: 84% of CEOs believe they never speak to reprimand the company. Yet 10% of employees say that's all they hear... and 39% of executives say it happens regularly.
Takeaway: There's nothing wrong with critiquing, correcting, giving feedback, etc. Just keep in mind that how you communicate in formal settings may be very different than in impromptu, off the cuff moments. Always weigh your intentions before you speak -- every time.
Finding: Executives are twice as likely as general employees to say their CEO always focuses on negatives or never focuses on positives when communicating with the company. Yet at the same time, general employees are twice as likely to say the CEO always celebrates company successes.
Takeaway: How you communicate with your leadership team may be very different from how you communicate with the rank and file. That makes sense... but where praising and celebrating success is concerned, shouldn't every employee feel the love?
Finding: Almost half of CEOs report speaking to the company (email, phone, face to face, etc) less than once a month. 38% only communicate quarterly. 74% of all employees say they would like to hear from you at least once a month.
Takeaway: People want to be led, and leadership starts with communication. Even a weekly email to the entire company sharing successes, challenges, initiatives, praising accomplishments -- easy stuff -- will go a long way towards making employees feel more engaged.
Finding: 69% of executives say their CEO replies to emails the same day. 15% say they get a reply within one hour.
Takeaway: You react all day. Entrepreneurs are great at reacting to changes, to challenges, to crises... and to email. We're all good at reacting. So when you respond to an email with an answer that may apply broadly, share your answer with the rest of your team. That's an easy way to start communicating proactively.
Finding: While only 10% of CEOs claim to use fear as a motivating tool, leadership teams rank fear as their CEOs' primary "motivational" tool.
Takeaway: You're the boss. People respect your opinions. They also fear your opinions. And, occasionally, they fear for their jobs. In isolated cases an employee should be concerned about his future... but fear is a creativity, motivation, and engagement killer.
Finding: All employees say instilling a vision is the best motivational tool a CEO can use. Praise and incentives ranked next, then building and fostering relationships.
Takeaway: Your employees want to be inspired, motivated, and made to feel better about themselves -- when you do that, your team will follow not because they have to but because they want to. Then, wherever you're headed... you're going together.
Finding: Employees assume you work approximately 60 hours per week. Interestingly, they assume you're actually in the office about 38 hours a week.
Takeaway: When you're in charge, you're under a microscope. Employees notice everything -- including how long and hard you work. They realize you take work home and give you "credit" for that. So don't waste time reminding people about all the hours you put in. They already know.
Finding: 87% of executives feel their CEOs respect their opinions. But only between 50 and 60% say they feel comfortable coming to you with ideas.
Takeaway: Interesting finding. Apparently most employees feel comfortable sharing their opinions about your ideas, or the ideas of others... but not as comfortable raising their own ideas. Think about how you respond when a proposal isn't yours. You may be cutting off the flow of great ideas -- even though ideas are the lifeblood of every company.
Finding: 46% of executives report massaging data before handing it over to their boss.
Takeaway: The best decisions are based on the best data, but that can't happen when employees are afraid to share not only the good but also the bad. How you respond to bad news sets a tone that informs how bad news will be communicated in the future -- so never shoot the messenger.
Finding: 54% of leadership teams say their CEOs micro-manage. And only 1% of all employees feel that giving employees autonomy is a high priority for their CEOs.
Takeaway: This is a tough one. No one should expected to be trusted to perform a task they've proven they can be trusted. Besides, you're the boss; it's natural to want things done your way. But take a look around -- do you have employees who have earned greater autonomy? If so, give them more freedom...and more importantly tell them you trust them. Trust is motivating, empowering, and the foundation of a great relationship -- things every employee wants.
Finding: 42% of CEOs say "recognizing and rewarding achievement" as their priority. Only 17% of their executives feel that's true. 39% say "caring about the success and welfare of individual employees" is most important; only 19% of their executives feel that's true. 31% ranked "seeking ideas from employees at all levels" as most important; only 14% of their executives say that's true.
Takeaway: How you view your words and actions is likely to be very different from how others perceive you. So always go above and beyond what you think is "normal" in terms of enthusiasm, interest, and empathy. Chances are "too much" will be seen as "just enough" by your employees.
Finding: Over 60% of all employees describe their CEOs with adjectives that are positive: intelligent, visionary, competent, authentic, approachable, passionate, hard-working...
Takeaway: Your employees like you. They respect you. They feel good about you. That's a great foundation to build on. But don't stop. The better your your skills, talents, and leadership abilities, the more willing your employees will be to follow you to wherever you're going -- and the more likely you are to get there, because ultimately success or failure is based on your employees and not on you.