Strategic Communications: The Importance of Giving Your Employees a Voice

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By Owen Eagan, The Saint Consulting Group

In “Managerial Leadership at Twelve O’Clock” (see http://bit.ly/nlDHby), Pepperdine University Professor Charles Kerns states that managers should focus on those managerial leadership practices that drive employee results.  This is due to the fact that employee results influence customer results, which, in turn, affect business results.

So what are the practices that drive employee results?  As the book Good Boss, Bad Boss by Stanford University Professor Robert Sutton illustrates, employee satisfaction directly affects employee productivity.  However, employee satisfaction is not only related to how well individuals are treated by their bosses.  It is related to whether employees feel their work is a good fit, that they are being challenged, and that there are opportunities for growth.  Moreover, according to a McKinsey Quarterly article entitled “Motivating people: Getting beyond the money,” it has been shown that nonfinancial incentives are just as effective as financial incentives when it comes to motivating people.  Nonfinancial incentives can include praise from immediate managers, leadership attention, and a chance to lead projects or task forces.

Another way of contributing to employee satisfaction, and hence productivity, is giving your employees a voice.  Allowing them to be heard demonstrates respect and shows that you value their feedback and contributions.  However, it’s not enough to just enable them to be heard.  You also have to listen, acknowledge their thoughts and suggestions, and communicate the rationale for managerial decisions.  This will enhance a culture of respect, teamwork and communication, and employee satisfaction in the process.  And, as Kerns argues, increasing employee satisfaction will also increase customer results and business results.

Owen Eagan is Vice President, Eastern Division of Saint Consulting, an international management consulting firm specializing in land use politics.  He is also an adjunct faculty member at Emerson College, the nation’s only four-year institution dedicated exclusively to communications and the performing arts. Email eagan@tscg.biz