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Survey: 91 Percent of 1,000 Employees Say Their Bosses Lack This 1 Critical Skill

This recent Interact/Harris Poll tells the whole story about the current state of managers.

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BY Marcel Schwantes - 10 Aug 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Think about it: Good communication is everything in the workplace. Clear direction and expectations can't happen without it. Teamwork and morale take a hit in its absence. And productivity ultimately suffers without it.

It's also the one critical skill that 91 percent of 1000 employees in a recent Interact/Harris Poll said their leaders lack -- communication.

Drilling down further, the survey results indicate a much deeper issue: a lack of emotional intelligence (EQ) in how business leaders and managers communicate, leading to many dysfunctions.

The Problem

Respondents said the communication issues that impair effective leadership are as follows:

Not recognizing employee achievements -- reported by 63 percent of respondents
Not giving clear directions -- 57 percent
Not having time to meet with employees -- 52 percent
Refusing to talk to subordinates -- 51 percent
Taking credit for others' ideas -- 47 percent
Not offering constructive criticism -- 39 percent
Not knowing employees' names -- 36 percent
Refusing to talk to people on the phone/in person -- 34 percent
Not asking about employees' lives outside of work -- 23 percent

Employees also called out other management offenses stemming from low EQ: Micromanaging, bullying, narcissism, indecisiveness, and more.

The Solution

Healthy and productive communication requires connection and authenticity. It means being intentional about inclusion, praise and recognition, meaningful interaction, and two-way feedback.

The study's author and CEO of Interact, Lou Solomon, offered these gold nuggets in an article she wrote for Harvard Business Review:

1. Offer specific praise. "Great job" and other "atta-boys" and "atta-girls" just aren't enough to satisfy people who put their heart and soul into their work. Instead, be specific about their contributions when praising employees.

2. Give personal and public thank yous. whether walking out to the parking lot together or grabbing lunch, make it personal and heartfelt. Try public recognition at a staff meeting, or a thoughtful "thank you" in a newsletter, e-mail, or on yellow sticky notes in employees' offices.

3. Ask employees for their opinions. Leaders need make a habit of asking employees for their opinions and ideas on issues or roadblocks to success. Ask: "How do you think we could improve?" "What is keeping us stuck?" and "What do you love about the work that we're doing here?"

4. Share information. Important information is often withheld from employees until the last minute, which can hurt morale and cause anxiety. Leaders will gain more respect from their team if they share as much information as possible as soon as they can.

5. Provide feedback on an ongoing basis. Besides the dreaded performance review, leaders that give their staff ongoing feedback, and coach them to good performance throughout the employee performance cycle, will see great success.

6. Show your humanity. Leaders that are smart, and who can admit mistakes and who can laugh at their own mistakes, will gain the respect of their employees at a much quicker rate. Employees like and trust leaders and who are generous with what life has taught them.

7. Get to know your employees by name. Calling people by their name shows them you are giving them your attention, and are also connecting with them on an individual basis. If the company is too big to know everyone's name, start with the people in close proximity.