One of the hardest challenges that employers have to face is to not take workers’ complaints personally. This is fundamental to boosting employee relations and growing your business. But it’s not that easy.
Our minds instinctively try to protect us whenever we perceive someone accusing us. In this situation, our brain will try its best to come up with a thousand reasons why these claims are false.
“The more you throw at me, the more I start to pull away because I’m going into a threatening state. The more I go into a threat state, the less inclined I am to hear what you have to say,” says Jason Greer, founder, and president of Greer Consulting, Inc. (GCI), a labor management and employee relations consulting firm located in St Louis. Jason is widely known for his work in the area of employee relations and labor relations.
His company, GCI, is in the top 5% of employee/labor relations businesses in the US and has a 96% success rate in keeping companies union free.
According to Jason, if we let the threat state control us and completely disregard our employees’ concerns, our business is bound to fail. But why is this so important?
1. The tip of the iceberg
Employees prefer to avoid going to their boss if they have a problem. All workers will try their best to first solve the issue by themselves and will decide to talk with their employer only as a last resource. This means that whenever someone from your team is coming up with a complaint, it is safe to assume that what they are telling you is just the tip of the iceberg. ‘Where there’s smoke, you better believe there’s a fire,’ said Jason.
The issue your employee is bringing up has probably been going on for a long time and may be larger than it sounds. Make sure to pay attention to what your worker is telling you and prepare to potentially deal with the worst-case scenario, with the understanding that there is usually a solution to every problem. Ask other employees whether they have had similar experiences and do your best to fix the problem.
2. People Will Work For Money
Whenever you disregard one of your employees’ concerns, you implicitly tell them their opinions and feelings aren’t important to you. This is one of the worst things you do for your relationship with your employees, and it may have a long-term impact on their level of productivity. As Jason puts it: ‘People will work for money, but they will die for respect and recognition.’
If you don’t recognize the value of your employees by constantly showing them that their work and knowledge are not only needed but also appreciated, they will never go that extra mile for you. ‘People want and need to know that they are respected and recognized for their talents, skills, knowledge, and humanity,’ said Jason.
3. Lead With Your Heart
As we mentioned earlier, it is absolutely natural for our brains to look for a thousand reasons why our employee’s concerns aren’t valid whenever we feel accused of something. However, the difference between successful and unsuccessful leadership lies in how we react to these complaints. For instance, we can choose to let our emotions control us, defend ourselves and completely disregard our workers’ concerns with all the negative consequences that this attitude brings.
Alternatively, we can thank our employees, let them know that this is an extremely important issue for us, and take all the time we need to reevaluate our inner biases and see whether there is some truth in the perspective of our employees. Recognizing our biases is not easy and requires plenty of self-examination and awareness. However, understanding that an employee’s attitude always follows leadership. A leader’s willingness to remain open and receptive to their employee’s issues and concerns will demonstrate their contribution at a heart level beyond their ability to simply do their jobs.