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Earlier this year, worldwide staffing company Accountemps released a survey that was sure to pain many a human resources manager.
A random survey of 1,400 chief financial officers of U.S. companies of all sizes showed that 41% believed that a lack of communication between staff and management is the top mistake companies make in managing personnel.
In an age where technology can give even the smallest of businesses a global presence, companies still can’t figure out how to talk to their own employees sitting down the hall.
“Employees want to be kept in the loop and feel appreciated,” says Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit for Dummies. “An organization can only be successful if its employees have the information and support they need to do their jobs well, and a forum for two-way communication.”
Roxie McLerran serves as the Oklahoma City branch manager for Robert Half International, the specialized, professional staffing arm of Accountemps. And it doesn’t surprise her that in the Information Age, companies still fumble the handoff when it comes to sharing information.
“When there’s lack of communication between staff and management, typically it’s because managers get caught up in day-to-day, and they forget the most essential part of their job is reporting to their employees and understanding where the business is going and in what direction,” she says.
That day-to-day grind, coupled with the fact that managers are privy to information their employees are not, can create a disconnect, she says.
“A lot of times, they assume company cultures are shared and passed down the pipeline, but they don’t realize that’s part of their responsibility,” McClerran says. “It’s essential for any manager to take that time. Any time there is any new initiative or rollout, it’s critical that the manager takes time to not only help employees understand, but also their piece in it.”
As human resources director for the Oklahoma City technology firm CoreVault, it’s Sarwat Elledge’s job to make sure employees are all on the same page every day.
“I’m a big proponent of communication,” the 13-year HR veteran says. “It empowers employees, and it values supervisors. To me, empowerment leads to confidence, and that leads to happy and content employees. I just think it can make or break a business.
“The thing is that accurate and clear communication is vital,” Elledge says. “It’s vital to keeping employees happy and keeping supervisors happy. But you have to do it the right way. You can get into legal issues if you don’t broadcast your communication effectively.”
The second-biggest mistake came as no surprise: 28% of respondents reported lack of recognition and praise as another huge pitfall.
“You’ve heard the phrase that employees don’t leave the company, they leave their manager,” Elledge says. “I think it’s crucial a supervisor tells an employee what the issue is and moves on. And that same employee, if they do something right, you’d better be the first one to praise them.”
Photo by Mark Hancock