Employees are afraid to speak their minds. As a result, their managers never really know what’s eating at them. Want to know what employees are dying to get off of their chests? 

Consultant John R. Stoker, president of the communication and business development firm DialogueWORKS, Inc., said a lot of employees at client companies have confided in him to air their frustrations.

In a guest column on SmartBlog on Leadership, Stoker shared eight of the things he’s been told by employees that they want from their managers:

1. Clarity

Employees say the instructions they get from their managers can be somewhat ambiguous, and many times managers don’t double-check to make sure their instructions were understood.

Some managers tend to think they’re better communicators than they really are. That’s why it pays for managers to ask questions to verify employees’ understanding of an assignment.

2. Realistic job expectations

Some employees say their managers don’t fully grasp what and how much they do everyday. As a result, those managers may hold employees to deadlines that simply can’t be met.

The solution: Checking in with employees to make sure realistic goals are set for projects.

3. Realistic promises to customers

Stoker says it’s not uncommon for one of his firm’s customers to agree to build a product for a customer, only to have that customer slowly add “bells and whistles” to the initial agreement.

When managers agree to these add-ons without checking with their employees first, it can result in promises being made to customers that can’t be kept.

This not only hurts business, but also employee morale.

4. Give and take

When managers reshuffle priorities, this often means lumping new assignments onto employees.

When that happens, managers need to be sure they either take something off of the plates of those employees or tell them what they can put on the back burner.

In other words: If managers are going to giveth, they also need to taketh away.

5. Communication with other managers

A lot of employees work for multiple managers. The problem is, when these managers don’t talk to one another they tend to have no idea what their counterparts have already asked an employee to do.

This can leave an employee struggling to determine what assignments should be their top priorities.

6. Time to get it right

Some employees complain that their managers set deadlines that don’t allow them enough time to properly finish an assignment. They say managers do this assuming bugs will need to be worked out anyway, and a tighter initial deadline leaves more time to work out bugs on the back end.

Meanwhile, what employees really want is enough time to get it all right the first time.

7. Input

Employees don’t want managers making promises the workforce can’t keep. Employees want to be consulted before managers make promises on their behalf.

Stoker used the example of a project going over budget. If a manager agrees to a budget without consulting his staff and the project goes over budget, it’s the staff who end up taking the blame.

8. No more assumptions

Employees don’t like it when they’re not asked for their opinion because the manager “knew what they were going to say.”

Managers shouldn’t assume they have all of the answers.

Get if off your chest

Stoker doesn’t lay all of the blame for these issues at the feet of managers. He said he encourages employees to speak up to their managers about concerns they have.

But he realizes this isn’t always an easy thing for employees to do. As a result, managers likely want to look for ways to open up the lines of communication with their employees.

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