Do you see lots of turnover? Are you worried about losing valued employees? What is going to keep your employees happy and productive?
According to a Gallup survey, 50% of employees leave their companies because of their boss. The survey found that the workers felt like they’re given little guidance for understanding what’s expected of them.
It boils down to communication.
Face-to-face communication is the penultimate “soft skill” essential for a manager’s toolkit. Unfortunately, 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees, per a survey conducted by Interact.
It’s a Catch 22 situation: without effective communication between manager and employees, many employees will disengage from their work and seek employment elsewhere. Yet many managers are reluctant to communicate with their employees.
And if they’re not talking to their employees, it is not a big leap to consider that they might not be talking to their management peers, either.
The solution is to first, recognize the problem and second, do something about it.
Therein lies the rub. Communication training can be very costly and time consuming. The communication issue may be more specific or complex than a general communication course can address.
So, if the issue relates, for example, to dealing with a difficult employee, coaching, delegating, or providing performance feedback, the variety of training programs necessary can boggle the mind.
What can a company do to improve manager-employee and manager-manager communication? Create a just-in-time peer learning group for a 90-minute deep dive into the issue. In the group, the managers can share their expertise with each other and learn best practices that they can test with the support of their peers.
Peer Learning Group
This one simple method can help your company to retain more employees.
For example, LaShonda McNeary is a new manager with only a few months in the job. She has “inherited” Bobby Jones, who doesn’t know how to play well with others. Bobby’s co-workers are tired of him hoarding information and working without regard to their needs. Unfortunately, Bobby is also one of LaShonda’s best performers. LaShonda is at a loss as to how to address Bobby’s attitude toward his co-workers without adversely affecting his performance. She needs to have a face-to-face talk with him, but she doesn’t know how to begin or what to say.
She joins a peer learning group with other managers who have a similar problem with a challenging employee situation. Luckily, one of the other managers, who has been in the company for a long time, is able to share her experience as to what not to do. LaShonda finds that caution very helpful. Using provided materials and activities, they both learn a new performance feedback approach that they can use with, they hope, greater success.
They practice what they’ve learned and, through trial and error, find that they are much more confident in their ability to handle face-to-face conversations with employees to redirect and improve their performance.
Managers in prior peer learning group programs have said that one of the most important outcomes of their participation was initiating communication and building relationships with managers from other places in the company.
The other positive outcome was learning and applying new management strategies to more effectively handle pressing personnel issues.
For information about how peer learning groups can help to solve your managers’ communication challenges and increase employee retention, contact The Peer Learning Institute.
Deborah Laurel Chief Learning Officer The Peer Learning Institute