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“Hey Manager… are you listening to me?” Apparently not!

Latest findings from the Leadership Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D.) Survey suggest that leaders and managers are often not on the same page and sometimes not even in the same book as their employees, creating miscommunication, misunderstanding and relationship breakdown in the workplace.

The familiar adage that ‘people join organisations but they leave managers’ reminds us of the importance of communication when it comes to fulfilling employee expectations of management and leadership at work.

We know from the L.E.A.D. Survey’s profiling of the Top 5 Characteristics of a Good Manager which influence performance in the workplace, that communication is at the epicentre of effective management, dominating the top 3 spots from an employee perspective:

Top 5 characteristics of a good manager Employees (Rank)
Clearly communicates where we are going 1
Gives honest feedback on how I am going 2
Listens to / respects my input into decisions 3
Fair / even-handed / reasonable 4
Trusts me with challenging work 5


We also know that number one in the Top 5 Leadership Competencies that employees think leaders and senior managers need in order to do their jobs well is communication skills:

Leadership competencies Employees (Rank)
Communication skills 1
Problem solving and decision-making 2
Developing and coaching others =3
Planning and organising =3
Building relationships (external and internal) 5


So consider the following employee perceptions of their immediate manager’s/supervisor’s communication in practice:

  • 28% of employees feel their manager seldom or never understands the issues they face
  • 24% of employees feel their manager seldom or never listens to them
  • 28% of employees feel their manager is seldom or never interested in their views
  • 27% of employees feel their manager seldom or never supports them to resolve issues

In contrast, managers and leaders themselves believe they are far more diligent on all of these fronts with just:

  • 7% and 9% of leaders and managers respectively feeling they seldom or never understand the issues their employees face in their working life
  • 6% and 5% of leaders and managers respectively feel they seldom or never listens to their employees
  • 4% and 7% of leaders and managers respectively feel they are seldom or never interested in the views of their employees
  • 6% and 8% of leaders and managers respectively feel they seldom or never support their employees to resolve issues they face

With gaps of 17-24% between what leaders and managers say they do and what employees themselves experience, there’s little wonder that around one in five employees (21%) have actively looked for employment elsewhere in the last six months. And that the same proportion laments the fact that they would prefer to develop and advance with their current organisation but don’t believe this is possible or likely in their immediate future (21%).

Communication is the lifeblood of a good manager and leader. Without solid connections through communication, at best the employee will feel some of their needs are being understood and addressed. At worst though, they will disengage, become disempowered and ultimately start the search for an organisation and a manager that can provide what they are expecting of their manager.

So, when was the last time you asked your people about their issues, listened for the answers, took an active interest in them as people and helped to support them in addressing and resolving the challenges in their day?

Maybe today should be the day you begin to forge or strengthen relationships with your people through effective communication.