The most accurate predictor of employee satisfaction within an organization is a high level of employee trust and confidence in upper management, according to a study by the Hay Group. The striking fact that management dynamics impact employee psyche more than co-worker relations, office location, or compensation and benefits speaks to management’s important role in fostering a positive, productive work environment. This can be a relatively simple feat for managers who remember the ABCs of good leadership:

Accountability: A willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.Good leaders align their actions with their words, earning the right to ask the same of employees. Good leaders refuse to shift blame, instead admitting their mistakes and learning from them. When management offers empty promises and feels a need to appear perfect, it signifies misguided leadership and probably a disillusioned staff as well.

Believability: The quality of being believable or trustworthy. Good leaders know that, without credibility, they have nothing. It is a matter of being genuine, not superficial, when interacting with employees. One path to establishing believability is to simply deliver on promises made to employees. This is sometimes easier said than done, as schedules get crowded and the distracted manager may simply forget. If this mistake is realized, a good leader will talk it over with any affected employees. On the front end, leaders can establish credibility by keeping a record of promises, asking employees for reminders, or making statements like, “I’m not going to make a promise in this instance, because I am not certain I can deliver.” This expresses not only natural human weakness, but a willingness to be held accountable.

Compassion: Sympathetic consciousness of others' distress with a desire to alleviate it.There are few things more distressing to employees than leaders who appear to care only when they need something. Workers can easily discern whether their supervisors are demonstrating true compassion. This might involve inquiries into the welfare of employees and their families, or an “open door policy” by which employees feel free to air on-the-job grievances. Leaders should also demonstrate good listening and comprehensive skills, evidenced by follow-up inquiries showing that the leader remembered details of the original conversation. Remembering names of employees’ family members can also foster a sense of compassion. Although keeping notes will help leaders meet this goal, it can be very difficult in high-turnover work environments. However, as the Hay Group study indicates, employee turnover could be drastically reduced by managers who practice the ABCs of good leadership.

29 September 2008

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