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Managers' Love-Hate Relationship With Their Employees

August 18, 2000
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Related Topics: Retention, Featured Article
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I am a brand new Mom and have little time for the luxury of newspaper reading -- let alone brushing my teeth! But recently, my husband mentioned a new state bill under consideration by legislators that would, in essence, force employers to be a responsible Big Brother.

Corporate managers would be obliged to inform employees each time an e-mail or telephone call check was made.

When I heard about this pending bill, I felt extremely confused. On one hand, I constantly hear about extreme measures firms take to attract and maintain employees. On the other, I hear about managers planning to monitor their employees' each and every move.

Do managers trust their own people or not?

Why go to all the trouble of offering staff members two year leases on BMW Z3s, cruises and free soft drinks -- then turn around and peer at these same folks with surveillance equipment as if they were potential criminals? Do managers trust their own people or not?

There needs to be more consistency in the workplace -- a consistency of trust. And trust can only stem from good one-on-one communication. There is a severe lack of communication between managers and employees today.

When I was a corporate warrior, I was rarely taken out to lunch by my boss. Office social events were typically large events and involved a lot of teasing, taunting and uncomfortable silences. These parties were clearly not forums for trust-building between bosses and employees.

Managers need to get brave, and simply put -- get to KNOW their staff members. Countless employee satisfaction surveys show that pay ranks behind exciting work, good people and career enhancement opportunities.

Worker bees, such as my former self, seek a place to hang their hat every morning, do some meaningful work and be with friendly people. They seek a "home away from home." It is a manager's responsibility to ensure that employees obtain these things -- and hopefully reward their people generously along the way.

The more employees are listened to, respected and given opportunities to learn and grow, the more trust they will have for their bosses. Managers must encourage their subordinates to speak up without fear of reprisal. At the same time, company leaders must put aside their egos and truly act in their staffpersons' interests.

When all these things happen, real trust is built. The traditional corporate structure of employee-employee, and employee-boss competition makes this type of openness difficult to achieve.

I hope there are at least a few pioneers out there who are more concerned with getting to know the people that work for them and less concerned about providing pastries on Friday or snooping into their staff's e-mails. It is these brave souls that truly know the meaning of employee retention.

Other columns by Amy Berger:

Tales from an Outsider: My 30 Days as an HR Industry Analyst

Recent Articles by Amy Berger

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