Many years ago, when I was a young manager, our head of Human Resources was a practitioner of what’s sometimes called “management by walking around.” She regularly spent time walking around our large headquarters observing normal day-to-day operations. Being new to management then and eager to pick up whatever I could about what felt like a very challenging role, I one day asked her what she was learning through her travels.
Her answer surprised me. “I’ll tell you,” she said,
‘our managers just don’t talk to their employees enough. There’s too much silence in this building. There’s not enough communication going on.’
The feedback problem
That was a long time ago but I never forgot her answer. To this day I feel there’s considerable insight and truth in it. And the fact is, beyond such soft anecdotal evidence there’s also hard data.
Years later when I’d retired from corporate management and actually had time to think and write and speak about what I’d been doing for the last quarter century, I came across a survey with a simple but memorable finding: 65% of employees want more feedback than they get.
It made me think about that long-ago conversation and, based on my own management experiences, this feedback data didn’t in the slightest surprise me. Because thoughtful dialogue between manager and employee is one of those things we take for granted and just assume is regularly occurring. But the reality is it often isn’t. As the 65% figure in the survey noted above shows.
What’s more, lack of feedback is demoralizing. Employees like to know how they’re doing – it’s just human nature – and when people have no idea where they stand it’s unsettling. Disturbing. Anxiety-provoking.
I’ve come to believe that a chronic “feedback gap” occurs in business. Sure, there are plenty of exceptional communicators out there who are terrific managers, of course. But in the aggregate there are also plenty of non-communicators in management roles too. Plenty of silence. Plenty of employees not experiencing the dialogue they’d ideally like.
Which is why I believe a product like 2DAYSMOOD — that makes it easy and natural for employees to make their feelings known — is so valuable. It encourages dialogue. It supports meaningful conversations in a simple constructive way.
Because in all organizations thoughtful manager–employee conversations need to take place. But too often don’t.
My old HR executive friend instinctively understood that over three decades ago. I still believe it today.
Victor Lipman is an author and speaker with a particular interest in the importance of “mindfulness in management.” He has more than 20 years of Fortune 500 management experience. His book is The Type B Manager (Prentice-Hall Press), and he has contributed to Forbes, Psychology Today and Harvard Business Review.